Utah Valley University picked up its first home win of the season over visiting Santa Clara on Thursday, 12-4, scoring 12 unanswered runs to overcome an early 4-0 deficit.
After battling back from a 4-0 hole in the first inning, UVU (12-23) held an 8-4 lead entering the sixth inning. The Wolverines rallied for four more runs in the frame, capped by Brittney Vanway's walk-off homer, to pick up the home win.
"The girls brought it hard yesterday at practice after a bit of a setback on Tuesday (a 9-0 loss to BYU), and it showed today," UVU head coach Nikki Palmer said. "Everybody came out and swung the bats well. We had some key pinch-hits at the end of the game and Brittney and Morgan Summers stayed hot all game."
The Broncos (5-23) came out swinging early in the game to take a four-run advantage heading into the bottom of the first inning. However, the Wolverines would answer back, tallying six runs of their own in the opening frame.
The six-run burst was sparked by a triple from Morgan Summers, scoring Dynasty Lauvai from first base. Summers, who finished the game 3-for-4, later scored on a single from Brittney Vansway. UVU would eventually load the bases, getting another run when Kelli Fox worked a walk. Amanda Robinson singled to center field, driving in Hailey Kofler before another walk would score Debra Lovell to put the Wolverines out in front, 6-4, after an eventful first frame.
Lovell would go on to help Utah Valley extend the lead with a deep, solo home run over the left field wall in the second inning. Her fourth homer of the season put UVU up 7-4.
The Wolverines got another run in the bottom of the fourth, setting the stage for a big sixth inning. Dara Rahm and Summers led off the frame with back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position after a double steal in Megan Peay's ensuing at-bat. Peay then delivered a two-RBI single, bringing both baserunners in to score when her blooper found the outfield grass. Next up, Kofler doubled to center, scoring pinch-runner Megan Ventura, setting the table for Vansway's decisive blast.
Vansway would finish the game with three RBIs after going 3-for-4 on the afternoon.
"We called a timeout right before that last pitch and I told Brittney, `a home run wins it, just saying,'" Palmer said. "The wind was blowing out today and she got ahold of one and got out. It was exciting and a great hit."
Kailey Christensen picked up her second win of the season, throwing all six innings on Thursday. After allowing all four runs on two hits in the first, she did not allow another hit until the fifth inning and allowed just two over the final five full innings. Christensen had entered the contest having thrown only five complete innings all season.
"Kailey was a little nervous in the first inning, but came out in the second inning and shut them down the rest of the game," Palmer said of her starter's outing. "She can be very good for us going forward."
The Wolverines have a quick turnaround as they will now open the WAC home schedule with Grand Canyon in a three game series beginning Friday at Wolverine Field. Friday features a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. MT, while Saturday's single game also begins at noon.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.