OREM, Utah — With a potential NCAA postseason berth on the line, Utah Valley University enters its final league series at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles this weekend. Saturday's doubleheader at LMU's Smith Field gets underway at 11 a.m. MT, while Sunday's twin bill begins at 1 p.m.
Both UVU (34-17) and LMU (30-22) will be wrapping up their Pacific Coast Softball Conference schedules and sit in a tie for second place in the conference standings. With a 13-7 PCSC record, both teams sit two games behind first-place BYU. Needing to take care of its own business at LMU, Utah Valley will also need help from Saint Mary's, which visits Provo this weekend.
An automatic bid to Regionals is given to the regular season winner of the PCSC. Therefore, should everything fall into place this weekend, the Wolverines could become UVU's first team sport in the institution's Division I era to compete in the NCAA postseason.
With three non-conference wins already under its belt this week, UVU has pieced together an eight-game winning streak headed into the weekend. That matches the largest such streak for the Wolverines this season when it reeled off an octet of wins March 10-16. Its latest win came Wednesday night in a 3-0 triumph over Idaho State in Pocatello. One of the top hitting teams in the country, UVU handed the Bengals just their second shutout loss of the season.
Shorstop Krystin Jachim continues to lead the team in batting average, brandishing a .388 mark to go along with a team-high 12 doubles. She is also tied for the team lead in RBIs with first baseman Amanda Robinson at 31. Robinson is hitting .369 on the season, including a .366 clip in league play, and has belted a team-best seven home runs on the year. Outfielder Kylee Brinkerhoff's .329 average is next on the squad and rounds out UVU's .300 hitters.
In the circle, the tandem of Tiffany Mills and Josi Summers are coming off some of their most dominant performances of the season. Mills (17-11, 1.78 ERA) is the reigning PCSC Pitcher of the Week and threw a complete game shutout at ISU on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Summers (12-6, 2.24) set a single-game school record for strikeouts with 13 in a 3-2 win over Weber State on Tuesday.
As of the start of this week, Loyola Marymount boasts one of the top offenses in the PCSC, ranking third in batting average, second in slugging, second in scoring, first in doubles and first in home runs. Heading up that offensive attack is infielder Meghan Harman. The junior owns a .343 batting average to go along with eight home runs and 31 RBIs on the season. Not far behind comes second baseman Sterling Shuster at .319, six home runs and 25 RBIs. Shuster had a career series against San Diego last weekend, going 5-for-12 with four blasts on her way to PCSC Player of the Week honors.
Sydney Gouveia has proven herself one of the league's top pitchers this season, going 16-4 with a 1.88 ERA. The freshman was saddled with Wednesday's loss against UCLA but struck out seven Bruins along the way. Senior Dana Waldusky (9-16, 2.57) has also seen 23 starts this season.
UVU and LMU last met a season ago with the Lions claiming the four-game series 3-1.
Utah Valley returns to Orem to close out the regular season when it hosts Utah State at Wolverine Field on Tuesday. The 2 p.m. contest was originally scheduled for April 9, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.