Utah Valley University closed its weekend at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, on Sunday, dropping games to UT Arlington, 6-0, and Nevada, 9-0, in five innings. The two losses send UVU to its first 0-5 start since the 2011 season.
"We've got a lot of things to work on, but I don't think this weekend was in any way indicative of the talent we have on this roster," UVU head coach Nikki Palmer said. "We made a lot of adjustments from the first game to the last and we'll keep working to improve on these things going forward."
UT Arlington (3-2) struck first and in a big way in Sunday's first game, hanging five runs in the top half of the second inning. The offensive outburst, powered by a three-run home run from UTA's Nina Villanueva, chased Josi Summers from the game after just one and two-thirds innings. Aiding the Mavericks were a few miscues within the Wolverine battery as UTA runners took three extra bases in the frame courtesy of a wild pitch and two passed balls.
Bailey Moore came on in relief for Summers and settled in quickly. The true freshman got a strikeout to end the inning and went on to retire the next nine Maverick hitters. Moore's strong performance in the circle gave the Wolverines an opportunity to cut into the deficit, but UVU was held scoreless over the next three innings, stranding five runners on base in that time.
"Bailey did a nice job against UTA," Palmer said. "She's put in a lot of work in the offseason and it paid off for her today. She moved the ball around a lot and her ball was breaking really hard. She stayed consistent in her spots and her team did a nice job behind her."
UTA finally got to Moore in the top half of the sixth, getting a leadoff double to begin the frame from Jolene Schaefer. She would eventually come around to score on Kacey Everett's single to right to settle the Mavericks' final tally.
Utah Valley left runners on base in the sixth and seventh innings but never quite generated the hits it needed to get on the board.
Of UVU's five hits in the contest, two came off the bat of true freshman Brianna Gatlin. Filling the DP role, Gatlin went 2-for-3 with a pair of sharply hit singles into center field. Moore finished the game allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched.
"Brianna had a nice game today," Palmer said. "Overall, I thought we had a much better approach at the plate as a team and put some balls in play."
In game two, Nevada avenged an 11-1 loss to UVU at last year's Red Desert Classic with a 9-0 victory.
JC transfer Kailey Christensen got the start for Utah Valley but left without recording an out due to an injury in her throwing arm. Moore replaced Christensen but entered in a tight spot as the Wolf Pack had runners on second and third and already a 1-0 lead. Nevada would get three more in the frame as the Wolverines committed a pair of errors before the third out.
Nevada added four more in the third and another in the fourth before Dynasty Lauvai delivered the Wolverines' first hit of the contest. Her single into right field gave UVU runners on first and second with two away, but Morgan Summers went down swinging to end the threat.
In the top of the fifth, Nevada loaded the bases and had no outs. But senior Dara Rahm, making her first-ever appearance at pitcher for the Wolverines, retired the next three hitters in order, including two strikeouts.
UVU left five total stranded against the Wolf Pack in suffering its fourth consecutive shutout loss.
Utah Valley is back in action Friday when it travels to Las Vegas for the Easton Desert Classic. The second of four, season-opening invitationals, the Classic sees the Wolverines play five games over a three-day period. On tap for UVU is Long Beach State, Toledo, host UNLV, Ohio State and Boise State.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.