In one of the more gritty performances of the season, the Nevada softball team stole the opening game of its series with Utah State (12-17, 2-5 MW) on Thursday by a score of 3-2. The eight-inning victory evens the Wolf Pack’s season record to 15-15 as the team improves to 4-3 in Mountain West play.
Sophomore Kenzi Goins put Nevada ahead by one-run with the go-ahead score in extras with her RBI in the eighth inning. She was joined by senior Erika Hansen as the only players in the game to record two hits on the day. Freshman Julia Jensen put together another impressive outing, going the distance for Nevada, striking out 12 batters and allowing just two hits in the process.
Nevada got out to quick start, scoring a run in the second inning after sophomore Haley Burda brought around junior Alyssa Mendez for the Pack’s first score of the contest. In the bottom of the inning, Jensen helped retain the one-run lead, striking out a pair of batters looking.
After a scoreless third, the Pack then pushed its lead to a pair when Mendez doubled home Goins to give Nevada a 2-0 advantage. The Aggies showed their fight though, scoring two unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth to knot the score at two apiece. The fourth inning saw the first three Utah State batters reach base, but some stellar defense from Mendez and freshman Lauren Gutierrez helped Jensen get out of what turned out to be a bases-loaded jam.
With score tied heading into extras, sophomore Kwynn Warner led the eighth off with a pinch- hit single up the middle to get things going for Nevada. After senior Aaliyah Gibson re-entered the game, another knock from Hasnen put runners at first and second with nobody out.
Nevada head coach Josh Taylor continued to utilize his deep bench in extras and called up sophomore Mele Tausinga, whose productive out advanced Gibson to third base. Goins then stepped up to the plate to drive home Gibson, giving the Pack a one-run lead.
Jensen came out firing in the bottom of the eighth, retiring the side in order, including her 12th punchout of the game, to seal the 3-2 win for the Pack. Nevada will be back in action on Friday for the second game of the series with Utah State, which is slated for 2 p.m. PT.