Gaffin RBI helps DSU walk off with 1st round NCAA win

File photo from Dixie State University vs. Holy Names University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 4, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SEASIDE, Calif. – Bailey Gaffin’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Dixie State a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Sonoma State Thursday in the first round of the West Regional of NCAA Division II softball tournament.

With the score tied 4-4 and one out gone in the final inning, Gaffin headed to the plate with the go-ahead run on third base. Shelby Yung had hit a triple down the right field line in the previous at-bat. Gaffin took a 1-0 pitch deep to center field for the sacrifice fly and the winning run.

“(Sonoma State) had shifted their defense on me all game and then pitched me outside,” said Gaffin, a left-handed hitter from Glendale, Ariz. “When I came to bat, they did the same thing. So I knew I was going to get an outside pitch. I knew if I got it to the outfield that Shelby would get in easily.”

The game started ominously for the Trailblazers as Sonoma State put up three runs in the first two innings.

Dixie State’s Bailey Gaffin (5), file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“They were extremely quick on the bases,” said Gaffin. “They ran a lot of hit and runs. Josey (Hartman) would make great plays but their runners would still beat her throw to second base.”

In the bottom of the second, Dixie State was able to draw even. Kenzie Sawyer hit a solo home run over the center field fence. Jessica Gonzalez then got aboard with a single to right center. Arista Honey then tied the game with a two-run homer over the left field fence.

“She threw me an inside rise ball,” said Honey. “I knew it was gone when I hit it, but I got chastised earlier this year for not running hard. So I put my head down and took off till I heard my dugout go crazy. Then I knew I could let up without getting in trouble.”

The Trailblazers took their first lead two innings later. Gonzalez singled through the left side. Honey then got her second extra-base hit with a double to center field. Gonzalez then scored on a sacrifice line drive from Josey Hartman to center field.

It would not take long for the Seawolves to score, however. Karly Macadangdang hit a solo shot down the left-field line to pull SSU to a tie, 4-4. At that point, Dixie State coach Randy Simkins pulled in reliever Alexis Barkwell to pitch for starter Brooklyn Beardshear.

Barkwell did not allow a hit in the final three innings. In the seventh, the first batter got aboard on a fielding error but Barkwell retired the final three batters to get the Blazers to the bottom of the seventh still tied and with the top of their lineup due.

“We got great pitching from both Brooklyn (Beardshear) and Lexi (Barkwell),” said Simkins. “They got a couple of infield hits in the first inning but we held them pretty well after that.”

With one out, Yung came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. “They were playing way off the right field line,” said Yung. “I tried to go there earlier in the game, but it went to the right fielder. This time she had to run and dive. She missed the catch and I was able to get to third. Then I just had to wait for Bailey to work her magic.”

The Trailblazers advance in the winners’ bracket and will play Western Washington Friday. The Vikings were surprise comeback winners over the site host, CSU-Monterey Bay. Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m. Pacific Time. If DSU wins, the Blazers will play for the championship on Saturday. If the Blazers lose, they will play again on Friday at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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