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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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SDSU Aztecs softball player AJ Murphy celebrates on the field during NCAA Super Regionals. (SDSU) SDSU Aztecs softball player AJ Murphy celebrates on the field during NCAA Super Regionals. (SDSU)

Softball: Aztecs Edge No. 15 Utah, 4-3, at NCAA Super Regionals

Fresh off a 4-3 win in the NCAA Super Regional opener over No. 15 Utah, the SDSU softball team looks to punch its ticket to the Women's College World Series Saturday against the Utes.
By GoAztecs

AJ Murphy hit a go-ahead two-run double in the top of the fourth inning and the 1-2 pitching duo of Allie Light and Dee Dee Hernandez allowed just five hits against the fourth-best hitting team in the country to lift the San Diego State University softball team to a 4-3 win at the No. 15 overall seed Utah in the opener of the NCAA Salt Lake City Regional on Friday night. The Aztecs (39-15) now lead the best-of-three series with the Utes (40-14) and can clinch a berth in the Women's College World Series with a win at 2 p.m. Saturday.
SDSU outhit Utah, 9-5, in a game that was played in front of a Dumke Family Softball Stadium-record 2,723 fans.
Down by a 3-2 score after three innings, SDSU's Cali Decker walked and was replaced by Elianna Reyes. Makena Brocki followed with a bloop single to right-center field to move Reyes to third. Murphy then took the first pitch she saw off the right-field wall for a double to score both runners. Murphy, however, was thrown out at third trying for the triple. The Aztecs loaded the bases still with two outs on three straight singles by Alexis Otero, Macey Keester and Bella Espinoza, but Utah pitcher Mariah Lopez (21-6) struck out Mac Barbara swinging to keep SDSU to just two runs in the inning.
Light (15-6) retired the Utes in order in the fourth before giving way to Hernandez. Light picked up the win after allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits and no walks over four innings, while striking out two. Hernandez gave up three hits and no walks over the final three innings of relief, striking out two to pick up her sixth save of the season, one off Light's school-record of seven set this year.
SDSU jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first, taking advantage of a pair of Utah errors. The second miscue - a throwing error by Lopez with two outs and Brocki at the plate - allowed Barbara and Jillian Celis to score.
The Utes tied it in the bottom of the second inning, scoring first on a San Diego State throwing error and then later when Haley Denning's bunt single scored Abby Dayton from third. Two of the three runs in the inning were unearned against Light.
The Aztecs loaded the bases once again in the fifth with two outs on a Brocki single, Murphy walk and Jade Ignacio pinch-hit walk. Lopez, however, struck out Otero swinging to get out of another jam.
Utah got one-out singles in the sixth and seventh but couldn't get across the tying run.
Murphy finished 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two walks, while Brocki, Espinoza and Keester added two hits apiece. Barbara and Otero also each reached twice with a single and a walk.