PROVO — Utah Valley held a brief 1-0 lead behind Krystin Jachim's second-inning solo home run, but the Wolverines couldn't overcome BYU's big third inning, as the Cougars prevailed 3-1 in a rain-shortened contest Wednesday night at Miller Park.
"We made some mistakes that led to some chances for BYU and really set up that big inning for them," said UVU head softball coach Todd Fairbourne. "We can't afford to give extra outs to quality teams like that. But I was encouraged by tonight. We've got kids that hit the ball out of the ballpark and we know (Tiffany) Mills isn't going to give up a lot of runs when she's on her game."
Jachim led off the top of the second inning with a home run to straight-away center field to give UVU (24-14-1) an early 1-0 advantage. The blast was Jachim's seventh on the season and her third in her last five at-bats. (The shortstop hit a pair of homers against Utah State on Tuesday.)
BYU (25-12) would respond in a big way, however, in the bottom of the third when it loaded the bases for Delaney Willard, its top hitter, with just one away. Willard came through for the Cougars, singling up the middle to bring around the tying and go-ahead runs. And after the ball was mishandled in the rain-soaked outfield, Tiffany Messerschmidt was able to score all the way from first to give BYU three runs on the play.
The Cougars would load the bases for a second time in the inning as the next two batters reached base, but UVU pitcher Mills (12-9) escaped further damage by getting a strikeout and a ground-out from Alexandra Hudson and Ashlee Brawley, respectively.
A leadoff double into the left center-field gap off the bat of Jamie North in the fifth inning stood as UVU's best opportunity to get on the scoreboard since Jachim's early home run. However, the Wolverines were unable to bring the runner around, as the next three hitters went down in order.
As the teams took the field to begin the bottom of the fifth, the umpires deemed that the already drenched Miller Park had taken all it could handle and put the game under rain delay. The stoppage lasted for about 40 minutes before the game was finally called, giving BYU a 3-1 victory in four-and-a-half innings.
Of UVU's three hits, two came from the bat of Jachim, who finished the game 2 for 2 with a home run and a fourth-inning single. North's double in the fifth was the only other Wolverine hit.
Mills, who allowed four hits, gave up two earned runs and and struck out two batters in taking the loss, while BYU's Hannah Howell improved to 12-7 after pitching five innings, allowing three hits and striking out six.
The game was the first of three between UVU and BYU this season. The Wolverines will return to Miller Park on May 1 and the Cougars will travel to Wolverine Field the very next day to close out the non-conference series.
UVU resumes Pacific Coast Softball Conference play with a four-game weekend series at Seattle University. The Wolverines and Redhawks will play a doubleheader both Saturday and Sunday. Game 1 of Saturday's tilt is set to begin at 1 p.m. MT.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.