OREM, Utah — The Utah Valley University softball team overcame a four-run deficit in the nightcap of its home-opening doubleheader to split a pair of games against UMKC. The Wolverines (19-7-1) won the second game 10-7, but their late comeback in the first game came up just short as it dropped the opener 9-8.
"We've been struggling with our bats as of late, but today we hit the ball pretty darn well," UVU head coach Todd Fairbourne said. "After a sluggish start, the girls' bats got going, and that really helped us out."
After leading the first game by six runs, UMKC (13-16) led once again in the early stages of the second game. The Kangaroos jumped out to a 5-1 advantage in the middle of the third of game number two. UVU countered, however, with three runs in the bottom of the third and five more in the fourth to pull ahead at 9-5.
In the last of the third, Amanda Perez came to the plate with the bases loaded and one away and drove home two of the runners with a single up the middle. Krystin Jachim followed with an RBI-single of her own to pull the Wolverines within a run. In the fourth, Utah Valley loaded the bases once again and Kelli Smart, Amanda Robinson, Deianna Russell, Perez and Jachim all drove home consecutive runs for the Wolverines.
That's where the game stood until the sixth, when the Kangaroos got going once again and scored two runs off of UVU starter Cassie Herrera to make it a 9-7 ballgame. Tiffany Mills, the reigning Great West Conference Pitcher of the Week, then came on for the Wolverines and retired the next three batters to maintain the two-run cushion for UVU.
The Wolverines added an insurance run in the sixth, as Kelli Fox scored on a Kylee Brinkerhoff double to give UVU a late three-run advantage. Mills then came back out for the seventh and mowed down the Kangaroo batters in order to give the junior her nation-leading sixth save. Herrera picked up the win from the circle for Utah Valley to improve to 5-1, while Cinda Ramos suffered the loss for the ’Roos.
Perez led UVU offensively in the second game victory by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Jessica Uresti, the current PCSC and GWC Player of the Week, too had a solid game as she finished with three hits (3-for-5). Jachim and North also each finished with two hits apiece for UVU.
In the opener, the Wolverines fell behind 6-0 after the Kangaroos scored five in the second and another in the third.
UVU's North then started the Wolverine comeback attempt in the last of the third by leading off the frame with a solo home run to left. The Wolverines later loaded the bases in the inning and Russell brought them all home with a bases-clearing double to left-center to pull UVU within two at 6-4.
Each team added a run apiece in the fourth to make the score 7-5. After the Wolverines got within one in the fifth at 7-6, the ’Roos pushed two more across in the sixth to extend their advantage to 9-6.
UVU then scored two more late runs in the last of the sixth to make it a one-run game. Both runs came home with two outs, as Marie Williams plated one of the runs via an RBI groundout and Robinson drove home the other with an RBI single.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jachim doubled with one away but was stranded there as UMKC's Ramos retired the next two hitters to preserve the win for the Kangaroos.
UMKC's Emily Ott picked up the win in relief, while Ramos got the save. UVU's Mills suffered the loss as she gave up five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of work.
North led UVU in the first game by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Uresti and Jachim each recorded two hits apiece as well.
For the day, Jachim, North and Uresti recorded multiple hits for UVU in both games.
The Wolverines will continue their 12-game homestand by opening conference play at Wolverine Field against the defending PCSC champion Friday with a doubleheader beginning at noon. UVU will then play two more games against the Vikings on Saturday with the first pitch slated for 10 a.m.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
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