LAS VEGAS — Sophomore Marissa Mendenhall went 3-for-4 on the day with three RBI and junior Naomi Amu hit a grand slam to lift the University of Utah softball team to a pair of victories during the final day of the Easton Desert Classic Sunday at Eller Media Stadium.
The Utes beat Long Beach State during the first game of the day, 3-1, before downing host UNLV, 14-6, in five innings.
Utah (4-6) snapped its six-game losing streak by outscoring its foes 17-7 in the two games and compiled a .444 batting average, while its opponents went for a .306 mark.
Along with Mendenhall, sophomore Mariah Ramirez and senior Jackie Sweet both had three hits apiece against the 49ers and Rebels.
HAWAII 3, UVU 1: At Las Vegas, The Utah Valley University softball team hung tight with No. 20 Hawai'i in its final game of the Easton Desert Classic but ultimately fell by a score of 3-1 on Sunday.
UVU (5-5) redshirt sophomore Josi Summers and senior Tiffany Mills combined to allow just three runs and seven hits against the potent offensive club but UH's (8-3) ace Kaia Parnaby outpitched the duo as she limited the Wolverines to just one run on six hits.
"We had our opportunities today but just couldn't capitalize," said UVU head coach Rachel Hartgrove. "Hawai'i is a very good offensive team and our pitchers did a great job against them. They both kept everything down. Josi threw a solid game and Mills came in and shut them down the rest of the way but our hitting just couldn't get the job down when runners were in scoring position."
Hawai'i struck first with a run in the top of the first inning to jump out to a 1-0 advantage. The Rainbow Wahine threatened for more in the frame as they loaded the bases but Summers managed to limit the damage by striking out the side.
In the bottom of the first, Utah Valley answered right back with a run of its own to tie the game at 1-1. Freshman Morgan Summers started the rally by drilling a triple off of the fence in right. She then around to score on an RBI single from junior Amanda Robinson.
UH's Alyssa Villalpando then extended the Rainbow Wahine's lead to 2-1 with a leadoff home run in the second. Sharla Kliebenstein then gave Hawai'i a 3-1 lead in the third thanks to a solo home run of her own.
The Wolverines had their best chance to score in the last their at-bat as they got runners on first and second with only one out. With senior Kylee Brinkerhoff on second and pinch-runner Dara Kosanke who represented the tying run on first, UH's Parnaby managed to strike out both Morgan Summers and pinch-hitter Cassie Herrerato end the game.
Josi Summers started in the circle for the Wolverines and went 3.1 innings and held Hawai'i to just three runs on six hits. Mills replaced her in the fourth and went the rest of the way. Mills allowed just one hit — a two-out single in the seventh — and no runs. Summers suffered the defeat to drop to 1-3 on the year while UH's Parnaby went the distance to improve to 6-2.
Robinson and Morgan Summers led the Wolverines offensively as they each finished with two hits in the game. Jessica Iwata led the Rainbow Wahine with two hits and a run batted in.
The game concluded UVU's weekend at the Easton Desert Classic where the Wolverines went 1-4 with a victory over San Jose State and losses to three ranked foes — No. 7 Oregon, No. 9 Cal and the No. 20 Rainbow Wahine — and host school UNLV.
The Wolverines will now be off until March 5 when they'll return to Wolverine Field for their home opener against Utah. Following the game against the Utes, UVU will begin a 10-day road trip that will take it to Arkansas for a three-game series against the Razorbacks and then on to eight more contests at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla.
DRAKE 7, SUU 2: At Tucson Ariz., Southern Utah (2-8) concluded play at the Hillenbrand Invitational with a 7-2 defeat against Drake (6-4) on Sunday.
The T-Birds finished 1-4 at the tournament after falling to the Bulldogs, Purdue, Arizona and Nebraska while picking up their second win of the season over Utah State.
The matchup with Drake went back-and-forth early on as the Bulldogs scored in their first at bat when junior infielder Amy Pierce reached home an on errant throw. The Thunderbirds got the run back in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI double to right center off the bat of Kelsey Bryant. SUU took a 2-1 advantage in the following frame as Cora Cordova drove in
Therysa Dyer from for the go-ahead run.
Drake came back to even the score in the top of the third and went on to add two more runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-2 lead. The Bulldogs added three insurance runs in the sixth as Nybo picked up her third RBI of the day and held off the T-Birds down the stretch.
SUU pitcher Ariel Zimmerman (1-5) suffered her second loss of the week after giving up four runs on four hits over five innings. Ashley Ostler allowed three runs on three hits during one inning in the circle and Danielle Axe closed out the game with a perfect frame in the seventh. Rebekah Schmidt (2-3) earned the in win relief for DU after striking out five batters in six scoreless innings.
Bryant's RBI in the first inning brings her total to a team best mark of eight so far this season. The senior also leads SUU with a .406 batting average and four doubles.
The Thunderbirds are off next week but will return to the field March 1-3 at the Libby Matson Tournament in Stockton, Calif. Southern Utah will face San Jose State and Pacific on Friday, before meeting up with Nevada on Saturday. Coverage of the games is available at www.suutbirds.com.
ARIZONA 13, UTAH STATE 1: At Tucson, Ariz., Utah State closed out weekend action in the Hillendbrand Invitational with a five-inning loss against host and No. 16-ranked Arizona on Sunday. The Wildcats used several big innings to earn the win, including an eight run third.
Junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker went 1-2 on the day against the high-powered Arizona pitching staff, including a RBI double in the top of the third inning that scored junior catcher Kelsi Webster.
Utah State used three pitchers, including freshman starter Noelle Johnson, who surrendered five runs to the hard-hitting Wildcats and was charged with the loss. Johnson is now 0-4 on the season.
The Aggies fell to 0-10 on the season after two weeks of tournament action.
Utah State will look forward this next weekend's action in Texas as the team travels to Austin for the Texas Invitational. The Longhorns will host the tournament and action is set to start on Friday for USU as it opens with a matchup against Lamar.
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