Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics
OREM, Utah - After a two-week hiatus, the Utah Valley University softball team is back in action Tuesday for the 2013 home opener at Wolverine Field. In-state rival University of Utah will be on hand for a 3 p.m. first pitch.
The Wolverines (5-5) will be playing their first contest since a Feb. 17 fixture with No. 20 Hawai'i at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas. UVU dropped a tight one with the Rainbow Wahine, 3-1, as pitchers Josi Summers and Tiffany Mills allowed just seven hits. First baseman Amanda Robinson drove in the Wolverines' lone run, delivering an RBI single after shortstop Morgan Summers' triple in the bottom of the first.
Through six starts in the early season, Mills is 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA. She has 30 strikeouts on the year, 10 coming in a complete game shutout of Southern Utah on Feb. 8.
The loss capped a tough, 1-4 weekend for UVU, which faced three ranked opponents at the Classic. The Wolverines grabbed a 4-1 win over San Jose State while falling to No. 10 Oregon, No. 8 California and host-school UNLV before their meeting with UH.
Leftfielder Kylee Brinkerhoff put together a solid weekend through that difficult slate of games, earning Pacific Coast Softball Conference Player of the Week accolades after batting .444 during the Classic.
Brinkerhoff currently leads UVU with nine RBIs, and Robinson is tops on the squad with a .419 batting average and .486 on-base percentage.
Utah is 8-6-1 on the year and comes into Tuesday's meeting having gone unbeaten in its last seven games. The streak began with back-to-back wins over Long Beach State and UNLV at the Easton Desert Classic and carried through the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. While there, the Utes picked up wins against Colorado State, LIU Brooklyn, Nevada and Ohio State before tying 1-1 with Cal Poly in the weekend finale.
Senior infielder Kelsi Hoopiiaina has had a great start to the 2013 season, posting a .426 batting average with a team-high 16 RBIs and three home runs. Marissa Mendenhall, a sophomore utility player, has delivered 11 RBIs on the season.
Utah has divvied its pitching duties between three players with Naomi Amu leading the staff in innings pitched (40.1). With a 3.12 ERA, the junior Amu is 4-2 in seven starts on the year. Sophomore Mariah Martinez also has seven starts this season, going 2-3 with a 5.49 ERA.
The Wolverines and Utes met in UVU's regular season finale last year, with Utah pulling out a 3-2 win in Salt Lake City.
The two squads will meet again on March 26 for the Utes' home opener.
Following Tuesday's contest, Utah Valley hits the road for an 11-game, southern swing. A three-game series, beginning Friday, at Arkansas of the Southeastern Conference precedes an eight-game slate the following week at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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