Beaver softball earns win over Utah with extra innings and a strong home plate presence

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Jason May: OMN Photographer

Sophomore infielder, Grace Messmer, sails a ball into the outfield against Arizona earlier this year on April 10th. The Beavers won the first game against the Utah Utes today to start the final series of the regular season.

Ben Pahl, Sports Contributor

The Oregon State Beavers won in dramatic fashion by walking it off in the tenth inning against Utah on Thursday night at Kelly field, in the first of a three-game series.

In a game so critical to their postseason hopes, the Beavers showed no lack of fight. Not even after getting punched in the gut.

At the top of the seventh inning, the Beavers were just an out away from ending it. After a fielding error by freshman second-baseman Kiki Escobar, Utah cut the lead to one.

During the ensuing at-bat, senior Ellessa Bonstrom looped a base hit into shallow right-center field, scoring junior Haley Denning and tying the game at five. Utah held the Beavers off the scoreboard in the home half of the seventh, and the game went to extras.

In the next few frames, neither team was able to get anything going offensively, as senior Mariah Mazon for Oregon State and senior Sydney Sandez for Utah both locked it down in the circle.

It was in the tenth inning though that the tides started to turn. After a throwing error on a fielder’s choice by pitcher Mariah Mazon, Utah had runners on first and second with only one out. A couple of pitches later, junior Halle Morris doubled down the right-field line giving Utah a 7-5 lead and silencing the crowd at Kelly field.

In a season where they’ve battled so much adversity, the Beavers were not about to roll over and take a tough loss, acknowledging that this is the last in-conference series for the regular season.

“Out of all the teams in the Pac-12 I truly think Oregon State has the most fight and heart,” said freshman outfielder Kaylah Nelsen.

After getting down to their final strike, freshman Harleigh Braswell hit a rocket to shortstop for an infield single, keeping the Beavers alive. Ensuing the following at-bats, Mariah Mazon and junior Frankie Hammoude both found their way on base, bringing freshman Kaylah Nelson to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, and the Beavers down by two runs.

“We’ve been talking about adjustments a lot, and I feel like people who weren’t playing and watching me told me what to work on and I’m like ‘ok I’ll go and try it,’” said Nelsen. “So, I just went up there, and I wanted to do it for my team, first and foremost. My senior Mariah came up to me and told me ‘trust yourself.’”

The adjustment worked. On an 0-1 pitch, Nelsen rocketed an opposite-field line between shortstop and third, trickling to the wall. Freshman Eliana Gottlieb and Mariah Mazon both scored easily, and as she was flying around third Frankie Hammoude was being waved home by head coach Laura Berg.

Beating the throw and scoring from first base, Hammoude was mobbed at the plate by her teammates. The Beavers had pulled off a heart-stopping rally.

Mariah Mazon had a monster offensive game for the Beavers, going four for five with two home runs and four RBIs. Frankie Hammoude went one for two with a home run and was intentionally walked three times.

For Utah, sophomore Aliya Belarde and Ellessa Bonstrom both went two for five on the night.  Despite taking the loss, Sydney Sandez pitched 7.1 innings and gave up just three runs.

Thursday night’s win was crucial for the Beavers’ postseason hopes, and it also snapped a ten-game losing streak.

“We’ve worked so hard all year for this, and we know we are talented,” said Nelsen. “It hasn’t been going our way the last few series, but we have heart, so we knew we needed to take this win and we did.”

Up next, the Beavers will take on the Utes tomorrow at 6 p.m. once again being played at Kelly field, before playing them again on Saturday to close out the regular season.