OREM, Utah - Utah Valley University wraps up a stretch of 14 consecutive games played inside the state of Utah with three non-conference matchups this week. UVU will play host to Utah State on Tuesday and Idaho State on Wednesday before traveling up to Logan for a rematch with the Aggies on Saturday. All three games get underway at 4 p.m.
The Wolverines (24-14, 7-5 PCSC) have a bye from Pacific Coast Softball Conference play this week, having reached the halfway point of the league season following its four-game set with BYU last weekend. Meeting for the first time ever as conference opponents, the crosstown rivals split the series 2-2.
The Cougars opened and closed the tightly contested series with a pair of extra-inning victories, taking game one, 2-1, in eight innings and game four, 3-2, in 10. Sandwiched between those two games were the two UVU wins, both coming by way of a walk-off hit. In game two, the Wolverines surrendered a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning only to see third baseman Debra Lovell play hero with a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom half to send the Wolverines to a 6-4 triumph. Similarly, in game three, Jamie North delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh. With the score tied at 2-2, the catcher singled up the middle to bring Kelli Fox home from second base and seal a 3-2 win for the home team.
Lovell's walk-off blast was her second homer of the week, bringing her season total to four - just one off the pace of first baseman Amanda Robinson's team-best five. Also going deep in the BYU series was catcher Jazmyne Cortinas - her fourth of the year.
Shortstop Krystin Jachim had the best week at the plate for the Wolverines, going 10-for-20 along with seven RBIs, four doubles and a homer in six games. By virtue of those performances, the senior's batting average jumped to .413 - good for the top spot in the PCSC.
In the circle, pitchers Tiffany Mills and Josi Summers each hold sub-3.00 ERAs. With two wins last week, Mills upped her record to 11-9 for the season and became the all-time winningest pitcher at UVU with 29 career wins. She leads the team with a 1.95 ERA and 114 strikeouts. Mills also picked up a save at Weber State on Wednesday, giving her five saves for the season to place her atop the PCSC and in a first-place tie nationally. Summers is 8-5 with a 2.64 ERA.
USU (8-29, 2-7 WAC) enters the week having picked up its first series win in Western Athletic Conference play. The Aggies took two of three games from Texas-San Antonio and have won three of their last four.
Senior Cristine Thomsen leads the team with a .364 average, followed by sophomore Hailey Froton's .313 and junior Kassandra Uchida's .306. Nicole Arata, a sophomore, is tops in both RBIs and home runs, posting 17 and three on the year.
Pitchers Mandy Harmon and Noelle Johnson have split the starts for USU this season. Harmon is 2-17 with a 4.67 ERA while Johnson is 3-10 with a 5.18 ERA.
UVU is just 8-15 all-time against Utah State.
Wednesday marks the second meeting this season between UVU and ISU (16-18, 4-2 Big Sky.) The two met in St. George at the Red Desert Classic in both squads' third game of the year. The Bengals notched an 11-3 win over the Wolverines in that meeting.
UVU holds a 20-11 advantage in the all-time series.
The duo of Vicky Galasso and Amanda Fitzsimmons lead ISU's offensive attack as the two have combined to hit 20 home runs. Galasso, a sophomore, paces the Bengals with a .456 average while senior Fitzsimmons follows with a .378 mark.
As a team, ISU bats .323 with 40 home runs - both of which rank in the top 25 of the NCAA's team stat rankings.
Fitzsimmons has pulled double duty as a pitcher, going 6-11 through 14 starts this season. Kelsi Ott has seen 11 starts, going 7-3 with an ERA of 4.93.
ISU is coming off a three-game, Big Sky Conference sweep of Weber State with Fitzsimmons going deep twice in game one of the series.
Utah Valley returns to PCSC play next week as it travels to the University of San Diego for a four-game series. The Wolverines return home April 27 as they face Santa Clara in Orem.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.