UVU softball: No. 1 Oregon awaits Wolverines in Tuesday doubleheader

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, April 28 2014 8:36 p.m. MDT

With WAC regular season play now completed, the Utah Valley University softball team begins a four-game, season-ending road trip with a trip to Eugene to face top-ranked Oregon. The Ducks represent the highest-ranked opponent in Wolverine softball history and will be the second No. 1 ranked program in any sport to face off with UVU.

Tuesday's games will be streamed live through the Pac-12 website.

The Wolverines (14-36) come into the weekend having suffered a pair of losses to New Mexico State to close the conference season. UVU held a 3-1 lead over the Aggies in game one but surrendered the advantage in the sixth inning and went on to fall, 6-3, in nine innings. NM State jumped all over the Wolverines in game two, claiming a 15-6 win in five innings. Game three was canceled due to heavy rain Saturday.

Following Friday's results, Utah Valley finishes the WAC season in fifth place and will take the No. 4 seed to the WAC Tournament in Seattle beginning May 8. UVU will face Bakersfield in the tournament's opening game.

The story of the weekend came in senior Amanda Robinson's white-hot bat. The catcher/first basemen hit a home run in both games against the Aggies, giving her 10 on the season and seven in her last eight games. She has hit nine dingers in April and has homered in the last four contests. For her efforts last week, which saw her reach a .405 batting average and 19 RBIs in April alone, Robinson was awarded the WAC's Hitter of the Week honor.

Winners of its last 10 games, top-ranked Oregon (44-5) is coming off a three-game sweep of Pac-12 rival Stanford. The Ducks outscored the Cardinal, 21-3, in the series for their third straight conference series sweep. UO last lost on April 6, when it dropped a 6-1 decision at home against then-No. 1 UCLA.

"Oregon is a tremendous program and has proven that they deserve to be considered the top team in the country," Utah Valley head coach Nikki Palmer said. "This series is one that we scheduled to give our girls a chance to face one of the top teams in the country before the conference tournament starts, and also so that we could get (senior and Redmond, Ore., native) Dara Rahm a game in her home state. We'll definitely have our hands full against them, but it's an experience we're all looking forward to."

The Ducks earned their first No. 1 ranking in school history on April 9 and have not relinquished it, going unbeaten over the last three weeks to maintain their top spot. UO has been a unanimous No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball top-25 polls for all three weeks.

Tuesday will mark the second time this season the UVU softball team has faced its highest-ranked opponent in school history. The Wolverines took the field against No. 5 Michigan in early March and hung tight with UM until it pulled away late in the game to win, 7-1, in a rain-shortened contest. Utah Valley and Oregon met last season at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, with the seventh-ranked Ducks prevailing, 9-1, in six innings.

It is also the second time in school history that any UVU team will face a top-ranked foe. Wrestling was the first sport to do it, taking to the mat against No. 1 ranked Iowa in February of 2010.

Following their trip to Eugene, the Wolverines return to Utah County to wrap up the regular season. A doubleheader at crosstown rival BYU on Tuesday, May 6, will close the book on the 2014 season and stand as the final tune-up before WAC Tournament play.

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