The Utah Valley University softball team dropped its first home games of the 2014 season, going winless in a Tuesday afternoon doubleheader against in-state rival Utah State. The Aggies prevailed in both games by scores of 4-1 and 8-7.
"I felt like we lacked a little bit of a plan at the plate in the first game," Utah Valley Nikki Palmer said. "And in the second game the bats came around a little bit more, but we struggled on the mound big time. We just need to play a bit more like a team, and we feel like that was two games we could have captured out there today."
Freshman Hailey Kofler led the Wolverines (7-16) on the afternoon, going 4-for-6 with a home run and two RBIs. Brianna Gatlin and Morgan Summers each tallied two hits in game two, with the former also driving in a run, while Amanda Robinson hit her 30th career home run.
A tale of two games on the afternoon, game one took the form of a pitchers' duel while game two featured plenty of offensive fireworks. The day's opening game got underway with four scoreless innings as UVU's Josi Summers and USU's Noelle Johnson allowed just one hit apiece during that span. But the Aggies got to Summers in the top of the fifth thanks to back-to-back solo home runs from Allison Lenzora and Hailey Froton to take the lead 2-0.
The Aggies (10-13) doubled their advantage in the sixth inning, getting two more runs off reliever Bailey Moore. Lenzora struck again with a two-run double to give her three RBIs for the game.
Facing a 4-0 deficit, the Wolverines got a run back in the bottom half after a Kofler double scored Megan Ventura from first base. Ventura came in to pinch run for Amanda Robinson who had singled up the middle to spark the two-out spurt.
But it was all the Wolverines could muster against Johnson who went the distance behind 11 strikeouts while allowing only four UVU hits. Summers, in the meantime, took the loss after throwing 4.1 innings and allowing two earned runs. She falls to 4-8 on the season.
Game two told a different story as the offenses opened up and traded runs for the first four innings. USU took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Utah Valley responded with two runs of its own to take its first lead of the day at 2-1. Summers drove in the first run of the inning with a bases-loaded single, and Jamie North reached on a fielding error, allowing the second run to come home.
The Aggies and Wolverines each tallied a single run over their next two at-bats, leading to a 4-3 UVU lead heading into the fourth. USU kept the trend going with a single run in the top of the fourth, but the Wolverines took their largest lead of the game when Robinson turned on a 1-0 pitch and drove a shot over the left field wall. The 30th home run of her career and first this season, the senior's homer also brought home Dynasty Lauvai who had opened the game with a single.
Robinson is now just two home runs shy of becoming Utah Valley's all-time leader in home runs.
But just as the momentum looked to be squarely on the side of the Wolverines, the Aggies reeled of four runs in the top of fifth to take the lead for good. Lenzora brought in the first run with an RBI triple, while the remaining three runs scored with two outs in the inning. A fielder's choice scored Lenzora from third, while a double from Victoria Saucedo brought home the Aggies' final two runs and put the visitors in front, 8-6.
After being held without a run in the fifth and sixth innings, Kofler led off the seventh with her fifth home run of the season to cut the deficit in half. The Wolverines continued to threaten, ultimately loading the bases for Kelli Fox with two down. But Fox went down swinging against USU's Johnson who came on in relief late in the game to claim her second win of the day.
Utah Valley has a quick turnaround, as it travels to Ogden on Wednesday to face another in-state foe in Weber State. The doubleheader gets underway at 2 p.m. MT, with the second game scheduled for 4 at the Wildcat Softball Field.
"That's the best part about the game is that it always gives you another day," Palmer said. "We're going to leave these games here and be on our A game tomorrow at Weber State."
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.