OREM, Utah — Fresh off a four-game series at Saint Mary's, Utah Valley University returns to the Beehive State to face the University of Utah. Tuesday's first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Utah Softball Stadium in Salt Lake City.
UVU (16-11, 2-2 PCSC) and Utah (13-13-1, 0-3 Pac-12) have already met once this season, with the visiting Utes claiming a 4-2, 10-inning victory in the Wolverines' home opener on March 5. UVU will be looking to return the favor as Tuesday not only marks Utah's home opener but also the inaugural contest at the newly constructed Utah Softball Stadium.
Both squads opened conference play over the weekend, with the Wolverines earning a 2-2 series split against SMC in Moraga, Calif. UVU took games two and four with identical 3-1 score lines. Third baseman Debra Lovell and shortstop Krystin Jachim each batted 5-of-12 for the series — good for a .417 average. Catcher Jamie North also had a solid showing, batting .400 with a home run, while Amanda Robinson tacked on a homer in game four. For the season, Jachim's .397 batting average is tops in the clubhouse, followed by Robinson's .354 and left fielder Kylee Brinkerhoff's .326. Dynasty Lauvai, a second baseman, leads the team in RBIs with 16 and is even with Robinson in home runs at three.
Pitcher Josi Summers earned wins in all three games she pitched last week, running her season record to 6-5 to go along with a 3.35 ERA. Tiffany Mills, the other half of UVU's starting pitching duo, stands at 6-6 with a 2.18 ERA. She also leads the team with four saves.
For Utah, coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of Pac-12 rival and sixth-ranked California, shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina has shown herself to be a critical offensive threat. She leads the team in virtually every major statistical category, including batting average (.379), hits (33), home runs (4) and RBIs (18).
Behind Hoopiiana, left fielder Kate Dickman holds a .293 batting average, while catcher Shelby Pacheco and right fielder Marissa Mendenhall have driven in 15 runs.
The Wolverines kept Hoopiiaina in check in the first meeting, as Mills kept her hit-less with two strikeouts. However, both Mendenhall and Pacheco recorded RBIs in Orem — the latter bringing in the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
Extra innings have been required in each of the last two meetings between UVU and Utah. The two teams closed their respective seasons in Salt Lake City last year, with the Utes pulling out a 3-2 win in eight innings.
Tuesday marks the beginning of a stretch of 14 consecutive games for the Wolverines to be played within the state of Utah. UVU returns to Wolverine Field on Friday as it hosts CSU Bakersfield for a four-game PCSC series.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.