UVU softball: pair of in-state twinbills on tap for UVU this week

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 17 2014 6:00 p.m. MDT

With 21 games of the non-conference season gone, the Utah Valley University softball team finally plays host to its home opener on Tuesday when Utah State visits Wolverine Field. Slated for a doubleheader, the Wolverines and Aggies get things going at 1 p.m. MT, with the second game scheduled for 3.

Tuesday's contests stand as a busy midweek for UVU (7-14), which will quickly turnaround for a Wednesday twinbill at Weber State. The games in Ogden get underway at 2 p.m., with game two expected to begin at 4.

The Wolverines return to Utah from Winter Haven, Fla., where they competed in the Rebel Spring Games. Playing eight games over six days, Utah Valley pieced together a 7-1 mark, matching the record of last year's squad at the same event. UVU won five straight before suffering its lone setback, defeating Sacred Heart, Manhattan, Siena, Saint Peter's and Creighton, before it lost in a rematch with Siena. Closing out the week, the Wolverines topped Albany, 3-0, before defeating Howard, 16-2, in their highest scoring affair of the season.

Josi Summers threw the first no-hitter of her career against Albany, keeping the Great Danes out of the hit column for 7.0 innings. She struck out eight along the way, helping her earn her second consecutive WAC Pitcher of the Week honor. She earned her initial recognition last Monday after going 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA in UVU's first four contests at the Games.

Also putting together strong performances were freshmen Brianna Gatlin and Hailey Kofler. Gatlin led the team in batting in Winter Haven, averaging .519 to go along with 14 RBIs. Kofler batted .359 with 10 RBIs and three home runs last week, earning her UVU's first-ever WAC Hitter of the Week award last Monday.

Riding an eight-game hitting streak, Gatlin now leads the Wolverines with a .345 batting average. Not far behind is Morgan Summers who has improved her average to .333 following a 9-for-18 week in Florida.

USU (8-13) returns to Utah after playing its last five games at the UC Santa Barbara Tournament. While there, the Aggies earned consecutive wins over Portland State, Dartmouth and Monmouth. The three-game winning streak matches the longest of the season so far for USU.

Two Aggies are batting better than .300 this season, led by Victoria Saucedo's .348. The shortstop has driven in 12 runs and belted three home runs. Following Saucedo is Paxton Provost, a freshman infielder batting .317 during her rookie stint. She leads the team with 13 RBIs. In the circle, Noelle Johnson has 11 starts this season and holds a 7-8 record to go along with a 2.71 ERA.

WSU is off to a 15-10 start to the 2014 season and is coming off a 4-1 trip to the University of San Diego Tournament. While there, the Wildcats topped Seattle U and Fairleigh Dickinson twice but fell in their only game against host USD. Meeting during the season's first weekend, WSU holds one win over UVU this season. The Wildcats kept the Wolverines off the board in an 8-0 victory at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.

Senior infielder Brooke Silva leads a group of three Wildcats batting above .300 on the season with a .372 average. Behind her comes Jasmine Ioane, a senior pitcher, who has hit six home runs this year while batting a .338 clip. Rounding out the trio is utility Alyson Kulp and her .329 batting average. Ioane and Kulp have combined to drive in 45 runs this year. At 9-3, SLCC transfer MaCauley Flint has been WSU's top pitcher in the non-conference season, holding onto an ERA of 1.27 with 106 strikeouts in 13 starts.

Following its busy stint of midweek games this week, Utah Valley returns to Orem to face Idaho State on Tuesday, March 25. That game leads the Wolverines into WAC play, which begins with a three-game series March 28 at Bakersfield.

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