NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge softball team (0-7) lost 12-9 to Utah State and 11-1 to BYU Friday in its opening games at the UNLV Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas. Against Utah State, Mikayla Thielges hit two home runs and finished with three runs scored and three RBIs, but the Matadors could not rally in the end.
Thielges, who blasted 12 home runs last season and hit her first of the year last weekend against Syracuse, hit her first of the game in the bottom of the first. A two-run shot, Abby Linn scored on the homer after leading off the inning with a single.
Utah State got the two runs back in the top of the second off CSUN starter Mia Pagano. Then in the third, CSUN broke the tie with two more runs. Jaci Carlsen started things with a two-out single and she quickly stole second. Thielges walked and Madeline Sale's groundball was misplayed by the Aggies and allowed Carlsen to score. After a walk to load the bases, Leann Lopez was hit by a pitch to earn the RBI.
Utah State was undeterred and scored four runs in the top of the fourth thanks to two CSUN miscues in the field. Crystal Maas replaced Pagano in the circle during the frame.
Northridge tied things back up in the bottom of the fifth. Carlsen started the inning with a double and then stole third. On the play, a throwing error allowed her score. Thielges then came up and blasted her second home run of the game to right field to tie the contest.
Again, Utah State answered back and scored six runs in the sixth. The Utes got to Maas and Alexa Limon during the frame, collecting five hits and two hit batters.
Northridge tried to rally in the seventh and scored three runs before recording the final out. Carlsen started things with a walk and Thielges and Sale were hit to load the bases. Jessica Fridwall singled to score Carlsen and Tiffini Lucero delivered a two-out, two-run single, but it was not enough in the end.
It was the first multi-home run game for Thielges and she finished with three RBIs and a career-high three runs scored.
Carlsen finished with two stolen bases and now has 31 for her career, the sixth-most in school history. Her double moved her into a tie with three other players for ninth in school history in career doubles.
Pagano went 4.2 innings and allowed five hits, five earned runs and five walks. Maas was saddled with the loss after going 1.2 innings with two hits, two earned runs and three strikeouts. Limon tossed the final 0.2 innings and allowed three hits and four earned runs.
The Matadors hung around with the Cougars for a few innings behind some timely defense and strikeouts from Pagano. The Matadors led 1-0 after a home run by Leann Lopez, the first of her career, in the top of the third.
However, things unraveled in the Cougars' half of the fourth inning. BYU finished the frame with 11 runs scored on nine hits and an error.
Pagano, who started the inning, wound up the loser and surrendered eight hits, seven earned runs and four walks. Alexa Limon finished up in relief with three hits allowed and two earned runs.
Northridge continues its time in Las Vegas Saturday, Feb. 18 with a pair of games. The Matadors face No. 24 LSU and future Big West Conference member Hawai'i in a doubleheader.