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UVU softball: Wolverines drop Friday twinbill to Grand Canyon

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, April 11 2014 6:40 p.m. MDT

Utah Valley University dropped a Friday doubleheader against WAC foe Grand Canyon University, falling in both games by identical 8-3 score lines.

"Grand Canyon definitely capitalized on some of our shortcomings today," UVU head coach Nikki Palmer said. "We didn't take care of the ball the way we needed to and the bats weren't quite there. But the good news is that we have a team that usually rallies back very well. So we're looking forward to tomorrow and it should be a better day for us."

Utah Valley (12-25, 4-4 WAC) got a pair of home runs between the two games, but the big blasts couldn't keep pace with GCU's (21-17, 6-2 WAC) timely and persistent hitting. The Antelopes finished the day with a combined 22 hits, notching 10 in game one and 12 in game two. GCU also finished the day with just one fielding error compared to four for the Wolverines.

Erin Romero provided the only UVU fireworks in game one when she lifted a three-run shot over the left field wall, cutting into GCU's 7-0 advantage. Debra Lovell reached safely for the Wolverines' first hit of the fifth inning, and Kelli Fox — who finished Friday's early game 2-for-3 — then reached on a walk to set the table for Romero's second homer of the season.

In game two, Lovell gave UVU its only lead of the day when she homered in her first at-bat. The reigning WAC Hitter of the Week now has five home runs on the season, with four coming over her last five games.

Lovell's solo shot gave the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead, but it was quickly eclipsed when Grand Canyon answered for two runs of its own in the third inning. The advantage grew to 4-1 in favor of the visitors before UVU put up two runs in the bottom of the sixth to get within striking distance.

Brittney Vansway drove in the first run of the frame when her one-out base hit scored Fox from third base. In the next at-bat, Hailey Kofler singled to center field to plate Brianna Gatlin, who had doubled earlier in the frame. The quick rally got UVU to within a run at 4-3, but it went no further as back-to-back groundouts ended the frame, stranding two runners in scoring position.

Any further late-inning drama was quashed when GCU tacked on four insurance runs in its final at-bat, clinching the game and the Friday sweep.

Wolverine freshman Kelsey Lawton pitched a combined 11.2 innings on Friday, getting the start in game two after coming on in relief of Josi Summers in game one. She allowed just one earned run in 5.0 innings pitched while striking out four in the first game before nearly going the distance in the second.

"Kelsey proved in the first game that she deserved to throw the second," Palmer said. "She kept them off balance pretty well. I think they only got a couple hard hits off her."

The WAC series comes to a close Saturday when UVU and GCU take the field for a 12 p.m. tilt. From there, the Wolverines only have a day's break before they welcome in-state foe Utah to Orem on Monday for a non-league doubleheader.

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