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USU softball: Utah State continues tournament slate at Marucci Desert Classic

Utah State softball (2-3) continues its preseason tournament schedule this weekend at the UNLV-hosted Marucci Desert Classic. Tournament action begins on Friday, Feb. 16, when the Aggies play Seattle (3-2) at 2:30 p.m. MT and FIU (2-4) at 4:45 p.m.

The weekend continues with two games on Saturday, Feb. 17, when USU takes on Buffalo (1-3) at 12:15 p.m., followed by Hawai'i (0-0) at 2:30 p.m. The tournament will conclude with a single game against Bradley (3-2) on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m.

The Marucci Desert Classic is the second of three tournaments hosted by UNLV this season. This weekend, the Rebels are welcoming 17 teams to Las Vegas for 46 games in four days. The Aggies are one of five Mountain West teams playing in the tournament this weekend, as well as one of two teams from Utah. Tournament games will be played at UNLV’s Eller Media Stadium, as well as three fields at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park in Henderson.

There are several ticket options available for fans planning to attend the tournament games. A full tournament pass is available for $25 for adults and $20 for seniors. Individual day passes are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors. Kids ages 12 and younger will receive free admission. Live stats will be available for all five of Utah State’s games, along with social media updates.

Seattle, a former WAC foe of Utah State, opened the season at the Kajikawa Classic, in Tempe, Arizpna. The Redhawks went 3-2 on the weekend, posting wins over Stanford, Cal State Northridge and Western Michigan. As a team, Seattle is batting .278, led by freshman outfielder Ally Choate, who hit .450 (9-of-20) last weekend. The team utilized three pitchers at the Kajikawa Classic who posted a combined ERA of 4.92. The Redhawks returned eight starters and 16 total letterwinners to the field this season while adding six new players to the roster. Geoff Hirai is in his third season as the head coach at Seattle, where he has an overall record of 42-67. Friday will be the first meeting between Utah State and Seattle since 2013, while the Redhawks lead the overall series, 3-1.

FIU got its season underway hosting the Felsberg Invitational where it went 2-4 with wins over St. John's and South Carolina. The team hit .203 on the weekend, led by a .500 (9-of-18) average from junior outfielder Jackie Schoff. Four pitchers saw time on the mound for the Golden Panthers, combining for a 2.90 ERA. FIU welcomed back seven starters and 12 letterwinners from a year ago, adding an additional 10 players to the roster. Gator Rebhan is in his fourth season at the helm of the FIU program where he has an overall record of 109-70. This will be the first-ever meeting between Utah State and FIU.

Buffalo enters the weekend with a 1-3 record after opening the season at a tournament hosted by Mercer. The Bulls' sole win came against Appalachian State. Buffalo is hitting .248 on the season, led by freshman utility player Anna Aguon who is batting .583 (7-of-12). Three pitchers contributed in the opening weekend, posting a combined ERA of 6.44. Buffalo returned nine starters and 14 letterwinners this season, welcoming four newcomers to the roster. Mike Roberts is in his first season as the head coach at Buffalo. This will be the first meeting between Utah State and the Bulls.

Another familiar foe for the Aggies, Hawai'i is set to begin its season this weekend. The Rainbow Wahine did host an exhibition tournament, going 4-0 against Chaminade and Fullerton College. Last season, Hawai'i batted .283 as a team, led by returning junior third baseman Nicole Lopez, who hit .331 (55-of-166). The Rainbow Wahine also return their top pitcher from a year ago in senior Brittany Hitchcock, who had an individual ERA of 1.85. In all, Hawai'i returns seven starters and 15 letterwinners to the field this season while adding 12 newcomers. Bob Coolen has been the head coach at Hawai'i for 26 seasons where he has an overall record of 950-571-1. Hawai'i leads the all-time series against Utah State, 38-16, and the teams last met in 2015.

Bradley opened the season at 3-2, hosting the Petersen Hotels Invitational and defeating Saint Louis, Miami (Ohio) and Western Illinois. The Braves are batting .298 as a team, led by a .400 (6-of-15) batting average from senior utility player Maria Schroeder. Three pitchers put in work for Bradley last weekend, combining for a 6.77 ERA. The Braves returned seven starters and five additional letterwinners while adding four newcomers to the roster. Amy Hayes is in her ninth season as the head coach at Bradley, where she has a record of 189-290. This is the third-straight season Utah State and Bradley have met on the field, with the Aggies leading the series, 2-1.

Utah State opened its season at the Cal State Fullerton-hosted Titan Classic last weekend, posting a 2-3 record. Sophomore outfielder Riley Plogger leads the Aggie offense, batting .533 (8-of-15) last weekend. Three pitchers have seen time on the mound, compiling a 3.47 ERA. As a team, Utah State is batting .255 (35-of-137).

Megan McCuistion is an Assistant Media Relations Coordinator at Utah State.