ST. GEORGE, Utah — The Utah Valley University softball team began its 2013 season with two wins on opening day at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, on Friday. Redshirt sophomore Josi Summers and senior Tiffany Mills helped pitch the Wolverines (2-0) to victory in both games by each going the distance in their respective start as UVU defeated South Dakota 4-3 in eight innings in game one and in-state rival Southern Utah 3-0 in game two.
"These are two tough teams and I'm proud of the girls for pulling out both games," said first-year head coach Rachel Hartgrove. "These wins will really help build the girls' confidence and hopefully can keep us going for tomorrow."
The Wolverines jumped out to 2-0 lead in their opener against the Coyotes (0-2) after scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman Dynasty Lauvai drove home the first run of the game as she drilled a double to center field in her first collegiate at-bat. UVU then tacked on its second run of the frame when junior Dara Kosanke singled to shortstop and Lauvai came to score from second on a USD throwing error.
UVU later extended its lead to 3-0 with another run in the third. Junior Debra Lovell hit a blooper to shallow right that was caught by USD's second baseman Kassie Loe. But with Loe's momentum taking her away from home plate and into foul territory, UVU senior Marie Williams was able to score and Lovell was credited with a sacrifice fly.
After missing all of last year due to a back injury, Summers held the Coyotes scoreless entering the seventh inning. Summers then ran into a little bit of trouble in the frame for the first time of the game as South Dakota managed to score three runs to tie the game and send it into extras. USD's Kate Snow, Lindsey Boyd and Allie Daly all drove home runs for USD to send the game to extra innings.
Despite a pitch-count nearing 200 for the game, Summers came back out to pitch the eighth for UVU. Summers managed to hold the Coyotes scoreless in the frame even with a runner starting the inning at second base due to the international tie breaker rule. UVU then came away with the victory in the last of the frame when senior Krystin Jachim delivered a walk-off single to left center that scored pinch runner Kelli Fox from second base.
Kosanke led UVU with three hits in the game while fellow junior Amanda Robinson added two. Summers finished with a game-high eight strikeouts from the circle for the Wolverines.
In the second game of the afternoon, the Wolverines loaded the bases in the second inning against SUU (0-2) and with two outs senior Kylee Brinkerhoff came through with a two-RBI single to left to give UVU a 2-0 advantage.
Utah Valley then added to its lead in the fifth after Brinkerhoff doubled down the rightfield line and Robinson drove her home with a double of her own off of the centerfield wall.
Mills continued right where she left off last year as she pitched a complete game shutout against the Thunderbirds. Mills, who set the UVU single-season wins record last season with 18, allowed just four hits while striking out 10. Mills capped her dominant performance off by pitching out of a bases loaded jam in the last of the seventh.
"Our pitching came up big for us today," Hartgrove said. "When it mattered they both (Josi Summers and Tiffany Mills) got a strike out or an easy groundout to help us get out of jams. I was very pleased with our pitching."
Brinkerhoff and Robinson led the Wolverines in the game with two hits apiece.
Summers and Mills combined for 18 strikeouts on the day.
The Wolverines will continue their opening weekend of play by taking on Idaho State Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Oklahoma State later that afternoon at 4. UVU will then conclude the Red Desert Classic by facing Nevada Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Canyons Complex in St. George, Utah.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
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