Dixie State shuts out WWU, now 1 win from West Region title

Dixie State's Josey Hartman (15), Dixie State University vs. Concordia University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SEASIDE, Calif. – No. 23 Dixie State softball clinched a spot in the NCAA Division II West 1 Regional Championship Friday, earning a 5-0 shutout win over Western Washington at the Otter Sports Complex on the campus of CSU-Monterey Bay.

The No. 4-seed Trailblazers (41-12) left 11 runners on base, but were able to take advantage of five WWU errors to hold off the No. 8 seeded Vikings.

Dixie State opened the scoring in the first inning when Janessa Bassett came across the plate from third base on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead. Bassett opened the frame with a single, then stole second. Bailey Gaffin moved Bassett to third with an infield single to shortstop before the wild pitch. Jessica Gonzalez later drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but WWU pitcher Anna Kasner recorded her third strikeout of the inning to get out of the jam.

The Trailblazers added to the lead in the second inning, scoring two runs on two hits and one WWU error. Shelby Yung sparked a run with a single to right field after a nine-pitch at-bat. Josey Hartman then moved Yung to second with a sacrifice bunt, before Yung scored on a WWU error when Dani Bartholf put the ball in play to the shortstop. Bartholf advanced to second on the play, then later scored on a Gaffin RBI-single to push the lead to 3-0.

Dixie State’s Brooklyn Beardshear (11) pitched a shutout Friday, file photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Western Washington looked to cut into the lead in the fourth inning when Emily Benson opened the frame with a single to left center field. Benson then moved to second on a wild pitch with no outs. But the DSU defense had other plans. Brooklyn Beardshear struck out the next two batters, then forced a fly out to left field to get out of the inning unscathed.

Dixie State took advantage of a pair of WWU errors in the fourth inning to push the lead to 4-0. Bassett reached first on a fielding error to lead off the inning, stole second, then advanced to third on a Bartholf sacrifice bunt. Bassett scored on the next play when Gaffin hit the ball to second base, and the Vikings attempted to throw Bassett out at the plate. Bassett beat the throw, allowing Gaffin to reach safely on a fielder’s choice. DSU would later load the bases, but left them loaded for a second time in the contest.

The Trailblazers closed the scoring in the fifth inning, pushing the lead to the final tally of 5-0 on a Bartholf sacrifice fly to center field to allow Hartman to score from third. The DSU defense then retired six of the next eight WWU batters to seal the win.

Beardshear (18-6) earned the win in the pitcher’s circle, allowing five hits with three strikeouts in her eighth complete-game shutout of the season. Gaffin led the charge at the plate, turning in a 2 for 4 performance with two RBIs, while Bassett also went 2 for 4 with two runs scored.

Dixie State will play the winner of Sonoma State and Western Washington in the West 1 Regional Championship on Saturday at noon Pacific Time (1 p.m. MT). The Trailblazers can clinch a berth to next week’s NCAA Division II West Regional with one win, while their opponent will have to win twice.

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