FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Pitcher Tiffany Mills went the distance and second baseman Dynasty Lauvai launched a two-run home run as Utah Valley University took the series finale from Arkansas, 3-1, Sunday afternoon.
After being shutout in the first two games of the series, UVU (6-8) finally paired a strong pitching performance with solid offensive production in picking up the win. Rightfielder Morgan Summers, leftfielder Kylee Binkerhoff and shortstop Krystin Jachim all delivered a pair of hits as the Wolverines posted eight hits and three runs on Arkansas (18-7) pitcher Chelsea Cohen.
In game one of the series, Cohen kept UVU guessing in striking out seven and keeping the Wolverines off the scoreboard through five innings pitched. Similar success was hard to come by in Sunday's ballgame as UVU regained its offensive form.
"I told the girls before the game that if we can make (Arkansas) chase us, we will win," head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "Our pitching was our strength all weekend, but the offense is starting to come back around. Lauvai came up big with that early home run."
Lauvai gave the Wolverines the lead, and their first runs of the series, when she lifted her third home run of the season over the left field fence in the top of the second. The big fly brought in Brinkerhoff, who had singled to open the frame, and gave UVU a 2-0 advantage.
Arkansas looked to counter in the bottom half of the inning as leftfielder Jennifer Rambo and centerfielder Claire Clark each singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Mills (4-4) worked out of the jam by striking out the next two Razorbacks and then, after walking the SEC Player of the Week Devon Wallace to load the bases, induced a groundout from Sierra Bronkey to end the threat.
The Wolverines scored again in the top of the sixth on an RBI single from Jachim. With runners on first and second, the shortstop laced a single into the outfield grass, plating Amanda Robinson from second.
In the do-or-die seventh inning, Arkansas made one last push. The Razorbacks brought the tying run to the plate with a pair of runners in scoring position and just one down. Rambo brought in a run on a sacrifice fly to center field, but that would be the only run the home team would muster as Mills struck the pinch-hitting Andrea Sullivan in three pitches to close the game.
In her complete-game win, Mills scattered seven hits and allowed just one earned run with six strikeouts.
UVU remains in the South for its next eight contests as it now travels to the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. The Wolverines will play eight games in five days at the Games, opening up the week Tuesday against North Dakota (1 p.m. MT) and Youngstown State (3 p.m.). In the 2012 edition of the Rebel Spring Games, UVU went an impressive 7-1.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company