Utah Valley University took both games of a Saturday doubleheader and completed the series sweep of Bakersfield, winning 9-4 and 4-3 at the Roadrunner Softball Complex. The victories mark the first time in program history that UVU has swept its conference-opening series and is also the third time the Wolverines have claimed three wins in conference-opening series.
"These were some huge wins for our club today," Utah Valley head coach Nikki Palmer said. "Starting WAC play undefeated is a big statement for our club and the girls are really excited about it."
UVU (10-19, 3-0 WAC) clinched its perfect WAC start behind a big offensive output in game one but had to hold on to weather a late Roadrunner (9-28-1, 0-3 WAC) rally in game two.
Pitcher Josi Summers started both games and took a gem into the seventh inning of the day's latter contest. To that point, the senior had pitched 6.0 scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and striking out five. But the CSUB bats came alive in the do-or-die frame, scoring three runs and even seeing the winning run come to the plate. Still, Summers was able to work out of the late-game jam, getting a big strikeout and inducing the game-ending ground ball to seal a complete-game win and improve her season record to 6-10.
Freshman Brittney Vansway delivered the big hit of the game two, ultimately giving the Wolverines the breathing room they needed to sustain the `Runners' last stand. Leading 1-0 in the third, Dynasty Lauvai worked a walk and Morgan Summers followed that with a single to put two runners on. After a Gatlin flyout, Vansway came to the plate and pumped out her first career home run to give UVU a 4-0 advantage.
Vansway finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Morgan Summers also had a multi-hit outing, going 2-for-4 with two runs.
"Josi was big for us today and the bats came through in big situations," Palmer said. "Overall, clutch performances were the difference makers. We executed the things we have been working hard on the past few weeks of practice."
Game one featured slightly less drama as a big offensive day from second baseman Lauvai as well as a concerted pitching effort helped Utah Valley to a comfortable victory. Scoreless after one complete inning, Lauvai got the Wolverines on the board with a three-run blast in the top of the second. The homer was the sophomore's third of the season and scored Kelli Fox and Debra Lovell, who had each reached on a walk earlier in the frame.
That big offensive output was then doubled in the Wolverines' next at-bat as UVU hung six runs on CSUB in the top of the third. With the bases loaded and no outs, Amanda Robinson got the scoring started when her fielder's choice scored Brianna Gatlin from third base. A walk to Lovell again chocked the bases full and Fox earned herself an RBI after working another free pass. After a Romero strikeout, Lauvai kickstarted a two-out rally with a single into right field for her fourth RBI of the contest. A fielding error in right on the play also allowed Fox and Robinson to scurry all the way home, putting the Wolverines up 8-0 with two outs. Morgan Summers tacked on one more run with a single to score Lauvai from second, giving the Wolverines a 9-0 lead after just three innings.
Lauvai finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored. Fox was also perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with an RBI, two runs scored and two walks.
From the third inning on, the Wolverine pitching staff took over. Josi Summers, who had started the game and pitched 2.0 scoreless innings, left the game behind the big lead allowing relievers Bailey Moore and Kelsey Lawton to finish things out. Moore pitched 1.1 innings while allowing three runs before Lawton threw the final 3.2 innings. Lawton allowed one earned run on two hits in that span, picking up her first career victory as UVU prevailed 9-4 to clinch the series victory.
After their strong days at the plate on Saturday, Vansway and Lauvai leave Bakersfield having posted batting averages of .667 and .556, respectively. The duo combined to drive in 10 runs, posting five RBIs apiece. Meanwhile, Josi Summers owns a 2-0 WAC-only record, accompanied by a 1.31 ERA.
Utah Valley has four games on tap next week as it steps out of conference play Tuesday for a single game at Utah State. The Wolverines will be looking to avenge a doubleheader sweep it suffered against the Aggies earlier this month. From Logan, UVU resumes WAC competition with a three-game series at Seattle U beginning Friday.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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