HENDERSON, Nev. - After opening the Easton Desert Classic with a 9-1 loss to No. 7 Oregon on Friday, Utah Valley responded in the second game of the day with a 4-1 win over San Jose State thanks to three home runs and a solid outing by pitcher Tiffany Mills.
"The Oregon game was kind of an eye opener for the girls but I'm proud of them for how they were able to bounce back against San Jose State," UVU head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "Even with a long wait in between games the girls came ready to go in the second game. We had good production throughout the lineup and it was nice to see all of our runs come from home runs and to see Tiffany (Mills) continue to do what she does."
UVU (5-2) scored all four of its runs via the long ball against the Spartans, as junior Debra Lovell, freshman Jazmyne Cortinas and senior Kylee Brinkerhoff all homered. Mills, the reigning Pacific Coast Softball Conference Pitcher of the Week, picked up her fourth win of the year (4-0) in the game as she allowed just five hits and one unearned run.
Lovell helped the Wolverines break a scoreless tie in the fourth by clubbing a two-run homer to left. The long ball plated senior Kylee Brinkerhoff who had reached base earlier in the frame with a double.
The Spartans struck back in the bottom of the fourth with their lone run of the game to make it a 2-1 contest. The run came home on a strange play where SJSU's Vanessa House came around to score all the way from first base on a throwing error by Mills.
With one out in the fifth, Cortinas extended the Wolverines' lead to 3-1 with a line-drive home run down the left field line.
A two base error by Utah Valley in the fifth gave San Jose State a golden opportunity to score as it put runners on second and third with only one out but Mills managed to pitch out of the jam by inducing back-to-back ground outs to end the threat.
Brinkerhoff concluded the scoring in the sixth by blasting a solo bomb to center to give UVU a 4-1 advantage. The hit was Brinkerhoff's fourth of the day, three of which that were for extra bases.
Besides picking up her fourth win of the year in four starts, Mills also pitched her fourth shutout in as many chances. The UVU senior struck out two in the complete game gem. SJSU's Amanda Pridmore suffered the loss as she gave up four earned runs in seven innings to drop to 3-4 on the year.
Offensively, the Wolverines were led by Brinkerhoff and sophomore Kelli Fox as they each tallied two hits apiece. Both of Fox's hits were for extra bases as she doubled twice against the Spartans.
Earlier in the day, the Ducks (6-2) struck first with a run in the bottom of the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Oregon then made it a 3-0 in the third with a two-run home run from clean-up hitter Kailee Cuico.
The Wolverines then got on the board in the top of the fourth thanks to a two-out single from senior Krystin Jachim that drove home Brinkerhoff from third. Brinkerhoff started the inning by ripping a triple down the right field line.
The Ducks then answered back, however, by tacking on three more runs in the last of the fourth and two more in the fifth to extend their lead to 8-1. Oregon then finished the game in the sixth with another run to win via the eight-run rule.
Redshirt sophomore Josi Summers (1-2) pitched well early on for the Wolverines but suffered the loss as she allowed six earned runs in four innings of work. Sophomore Cassie Herrera came on in relief of Summers to pitch the final 1.2 innings and gave up the other three runs on four hits. Oregon's Karissa Havinga (2-0) went the distance for the Ducks and allowed just one run on four hits.
Brinkerhoff led the Wolverines offensively in the game by going 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored. Courtney Ceo led the Ducks with three hits, two runs scored and two RBIs.
The Wolverines will continue play at the Easton Desert Classic by taking on No. 9 Cal (12:15 p.m. MT) and host-UNLV (4:45 p.m. MT) on Saturday. Both games will take place at UNLV's Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas. UVU will then conclude the tournament back in Henderson at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park against No. 20 Hawai'i on Sunday.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company