POCATELLO, Idaho — Senior Tiffany Mills kept one of the NCAA's most potent offenses off the board and junior Debra Lovell went 3-for-4 with an RBI as Utah Valley University topped Idaho State 3-0 on Wednesday at Miller Ranch Stadium.
The win was the first of the year for UVU (34-17) over ISU (26-20) after coming up short in its two previous attempts. It was also just the second time this season that the Bengals, one of the top hitting teams in the nation, have been shutout. As a team, ISU came into the game ranked seventh in the country in team batting average, eleventh in scoring and fifth in slugging percentage.
"Tiffany pitched great, yet again," head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "Last time against ISU (an 8-6 loss in Orem) she kind of faded in the end, but this time she just got stronger as the game went on. We struggled a little on the offensive side, but we were able to pound some balls into the ground and use the hard field to our advantage."
Mills (17-11) threw all 7.0 innings for the Wolverines, allowing just four hits while striking out eight. She outdueled Bengal pitcher Kelsi Ott who also had a quality outing, striking out 10 hitters in the contest.
UVU broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning, getting two runs in the frame. Kylee Brinkerhoff drove in the game's first run on her only hit of the day, singling to left field to drive home Krystin Jachim from second base. Later that inning, with runners on second and third with one away, Charlee Cisneros added another tally when her sacrifice fly to left field plated Dara Kosanke.
The final score line was settled in the next inning as Lovell drove her third hit of the afternoon into left field, bringing Amanda Robinson in from third base. Robinson, who went 2-for-4, reached on a leadoff double, then advanced to third on a passed ball to set up Lovell's RBI.
In the meantime, Mills went to work in the circle on the way to her 17th win of the season. Twice the senior escaped early jams with a key double play, turning two in both the first and third innings on identical plays — snagging a comeback line drive and doubling a baserunner off first base. She is now just one victory shy of tying her own single-season school record of 18.
With its 34th win of the season, the Wolverines eclipsed last year's win total of 33 — a program record for the Division I era at the time. UVU is also riding an eight-game winning streak, matching a run of equal length earlier this year.
Utah Valley will put its win streak on the line in the biggest series of the season this weekend when it visits league foe Loyola Marymount for a four-game tilt. Tied for second place in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference standings, both the Wolverines and Lions sit just two games back of first-place BYU heading into the conference season's final games. Saturday's doubleheader in Los Angeles begins at 11 a.m. MT, while Sunday's is set for 1 p.m.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.