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UVU softball: Big Ten's Ohio State too much for UVU in Vegas

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 16 2014 10:02 p.m. MST

The Utah Valley University softball team wound down its stint at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, dropping games to Ohio State and Boise State on Sunday. The Wolverines fell to the Buckeyes, 8-0, before being outscored by the Broncos, 8-1.

"We have a lot of things to work on coming off this weekend," UVU head coach Nikki Palmer said. "We will start first thing Tuesday morning and work hard to prepare for our next tournament in Long Beach."

Less than 24 hours after being no-hit by No. 10 Oregon, OSU (4-6), which returned 16 letterwinners from a 2013 team that won 10 games in the loaded Big Ten Conference, held Utah Valley (0-10) without a hit Sunday morning.

Buckeye freshman Shelby Hurst completed the feat, striking out 12 Wolverines on the way to a six-inning victory. She became the first OSU pitcher to throw a no-hitter since 2009.

Despite Hurst's apparent dominance, UVU was not without its offensive chances. Hurst walked six batters and worked out of jams in the first, third and fourth innings where the Wolverines put runners in scoring position with no outs. Leading off the game in the top of the first, Amanda Robinson worked an initial walk off Hurst and moved to second when Brianna Gatlin worked the same free pass. But Hurst got the next three Wolverines to go down on strikes, escaping the first inning unscathed.

In the third, walks to Morgan Summers and Amanda Robinson opened the inning. A wild pitch moved Dara Rahm, pinch-running for Summers, and Robinson into scoring position at second and third with no outs, but again Hurst sent down the next three UVU batters swinging to preserve the shutout.

UVU again looked poised to cut into a 6-0 deficit when Erin Romero and Kelli Fox walked to begin the top of the fourth. A sacrifice bunt from Debra Lovell moved the base runners to second and third, but a subsequent strikeout and groundout left them stranded.

True freshman Kelsey Lawton got the starting nod for Utah Valley, throwing 2.1 innings and allowing four earned runs while striking out two. Josi Summers finished the game and fanned three Buckeyes while allowing two earned runs.

With the win, OSU left Las Vegas with a 3-2 record - its only losses coming against Oregon and No. 1 Florida.

Utah Valley initially shook off the no-hit bid in the second game of the day, pushing a run across in its first at-bat against Boise State (4-6). After a two-run home run from the Broncos' Ashley Palmer put the Wolverines in a 2-0 hole, UVU got one back in the bottom half thanks to an RBI double from Dynasty Lauvai. Robinson opened the frame with a single and was pushed to second on a sacrifice bunt from Gatlin. Brittney Vansway flew out, sending Lauvai to the plate with two outs. The sophomore turned on a 2-2 pitch and drove one into the left center field gap, scoring Robinson.

Lauvai finished the game 2-for-2 with a walk.

The bats went quiet from there, though, as UVU manufactured only three more hits over the final six innings. Summers kept the Wolverines alive in the circle, keeping BSU off the board until the top of the fourth. There, the Broncos used small ball to score a single run and take a 3-1 lead.

Utah Valley put two runners on with no outs in the top of the fourth but came up empty when Lauvai was picked off of first, and Romero and Fox went down in order.

The game blew open in the fifth inning when Makenna Weir notched BSU's second homer of the afternoon off Summers. A two-run shot, the blast put the Broncos ahead 5-1 and chased Summers from the game after 4.1 innings pitched.

Lawton and freshman Bailey Moore combined to finish out the game for UVU.

Boise State, which finished fourth in the Mountain West last season, closed the Classic with a 3-2 record.

For the weekend Lauvai led the Wolverines, going 3-for-11 (.273) with an RBI. Vansway notched two RBIs over UVU's five games and was one of five Wolverines to finish the Classic with multiple hits.

Utah Valley is off next week but returns to action on Feb. 27 at the Mayfair Invitational in Long Beach, Calif. The Wolverines will play five games in Long Beach, including two against Big Ten foes and another against the Pac-12. On tap for UVU are Illinois, Oregon State and No. 4 Michigan.

Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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