The Idaho State softball team lost three games to league-leading Weber State this weekend at Miller Ranch Stadium, losing two games of the three by one run.
Head coach Candi Letts and right fielder Alex Portesi were ejected in game two of the series on separate incidents.
Letts was ejected in the fourth inning because of a second team warning on the ISU dugout following a series of arguments that extended back to game one and Portesi was tossed for an illegal slide on a play at second base in the fifth inning.
“I don’t think spectators could ask for a more intense environment to play softball in,” Letts said. “The games were close and well-played. I mean, talk about a dogfight.”
The series opened on Friday evening where Weber State (27-14, 11-3 BSC) defeated ISU (12-22, 5-8 BSC) 2-1 in a game that featured a number of illegal pitches from ISU’s Ashlyn Ames. Ames pitched all seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits.
“I think it was one of my better games,” Ames said. “I’m not complaining at all.”
The Bengals lone run was by Emma Bordenkecher with a home run in the fourth inning but, ISU left six runners on base over the last three innings, including the fifth inning where ISU left the bases loaded.
“I think we went up a little too timid,” Ames said after Friday’s loss. “We have seen better pitching. It’s a huge game and I think we let that get to our head a little bit.”
ISU shelled Weber State’s Tatiana Su’esu’e in the first inning of game two for five runs, picking up another in the third, but was held scoreless the rest of the way, losing game two 7-6.
Weber State’s Kirtlyn Bohling sat the last six Bengal batters down in order to close the ball game.
In the third inning, Mariah Mulcahy was gunned down at the plate on a collision with Weber State catcher, Molly Horne, which sparked an argument from Letts, one of many over the course of the weekend. Letts was ejected one inning later, forcing assistant coach Alex Schultz to take over.
As Letts watched from her phone in the dugout, ISU did not score any runs after the third inning and managed five base runners in the final four innings of the game.
“If we get one call one way, a ball drops another way, we probably win two of the three,” Letts said. “An unforeseen situation happens where we don’t get a call our way, it’s a different game.”
Weber State collected all seven of its runs in the second, third and fourth innings, chasing Mulcahy, who started the game in the circle, in the fourth inning.
Harly Wells came on in relief for Mulcahy and allowed no earned runs on five hits the rest on the way and worked out of sixth inning jam where the first three Wildcat batters reached base safely.
“If we can do this the next six conference games, we should be sitting really well,” Letts said. “We now have to make sure that we decide how those games are going to go, not anybody else.”
Weber State jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the third game of the set, holding out to win game three, 9-6, despite out-hitting ISU 13-12.
The Bengals got two runs back in the first, but were unable to overcome the early hole as Weber State extended its lead to five runs in the sixth inning, the largest any team had throughout the series.
“It’s like somebody went in and grabbed each one of every girl’s heart out,” Letts said on the series. “I think that’s what they feel. When you put everything into it and get your heart ripped out, it hurts. But now you have to get over that and you have to settle in.”
The Bengals have six conference game left, all of which are on the road.
ISU hosts Boise State Wednesday and then travels to Montana and Northern Colorado to close the season.
“We have to finish strong,” Letts said. “Wipe the slate clean and say, ‘bring it.’ Every team in the tournament, you bring it now because we’re here to win it and I think this could be a blessing if we can get through the next six games, get ourselves in the conference tournament.”
ISU currently sits in seventh place and needs to grab a spot in the top six to make it into the conference tournament.
“They have to take a step back, they have to breath,” Letts said. “They have to come out and they have to work but I think they see that they have to stick together and they have to go after it because there is so much energy. Now they know they can do something with it.”