Fresh off back-to-back series victories at home over CSU Bakersfield and Seattle U, the Utah Valley University softball team continues Western Athletic Conference play this weekend at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. The three-game series will feature a doubleheader on Friday, April 21, at 5 p.m. PT and 7:30 p.m., and a single game on Saturday, April 22, at 5 p.m.
Live video, as well as live stats, will be available for all three games by visiting the GCU Lopes website.
The Wolverines enter the series with a 12-17 overall record and tied for third in the WAC standings with a 4-5 conference mark. After getting swept on the road by first-place New Mexico State three weeks ago, UVU bounced back nicely by taking two of three at home from both CSUB and Seattle U in the past two weeks.
Two-time WAC Pitcher of the Week Lauren Frailey once again led the Wolverines in the circle in the most recent series against the Redhawks by going 2-1 with a near-perfect 0.47 ERA. Frailey allowed just one earned run in 15.0 innings of work in the series while striking out five and scattering 16 hits. She also tossed a pair of complete-game outings, which included her second shutout victory of the season.
On the offensive side, senior outfielder Courtney Beavers paced the Wolverines last week by hitting an even .500 (5-for-10) with a triple, two runs scored and four RBIs. She also drove home the winning run in Saturday's finale against SU en route to leading UVU to a 1-0 walk-off win.
The Wolverines actually won both of their games last week via walk-off hits. Besides Beavers' walk-off RBI single on Saturday, freshman Caragh Morris drove in the winning run during Friday's opener via a walk-off seventh-inning RBI single of her own to send UVU to a 2-1 win. Morris finished the weekend hitting .364 (4-for-11) with a home run, a run scored and six runs batted in.
UVU fell just short of sweeping the series, as its late-inning comeback attempt fell just short in Saturday's first leg of the doubleheader. The Wolverines scored eight runs in the final two innings of play, including a five-run seventh, but it wasn't enough as Seattle U held on to take the contest by a score of 10-9.
Senior third baseman Brittney Vansway leads UVU offensively on the season with a .402 batting average, eight homers, six doubles, a WAC-leading 43 RBIs and a .750 slugging percentage. Morris and Beavers are next with respective averages of .375 and .354. Frailey tops the Wolverine pitching staff with a 9-6 record, a 2.63 ERA and nine complete games. Her 2.63 ERA is also good enough to lead the WAC.
About Grand Canyon
GCU enters the weekend with a 31-14 record and in second place in the conference standings with a 6-3 WAC clip. After dropping two of three to Seattle U, the Antelopes have since won five of their last six ballgames after taking two of three from UMKC and sweeping CSU Bakersfield in Phoenix last weekend. The Lopes, who are 19-5 at home this season, were picked to tie for the league title this year after taking second in league play in 2016 with a 10-5 WAC record.
Shea Smith paces GCU at the plate on the season with a .360 batting average and 33 runs scored, while Camree Wartman is hitting .353 with a team-best 34 runs batted in. The one-two punch of Brianna Aguliar and Taylor Nowlin leads the Lopes in the circle, as Aguilar is 9-4 with a 2.66 ERA and the reigning WAC Pitcher of the Week Nowlin is a league-best 17-7 with a 2.91 ERA.
Friday's series opener will mark the 10th all-time meeting between the Wolverines and Lopes on the softball diamond. GCU enters play holding an unblemished 9-0 record after sweeping UVU in each of the last three seasons.
On deck for UVU
Following Saturday night's series finale, Utah Valley will return home to welcome in-state foe Utah State for a non-conference contest on Tuesday, April 25, at 2 p.m., at Wolverine Softball Field. UVU will then continue non-conference play the following day when it travels to Provo for a UCCU Crosstown Clash against No. 21 BYU at 6 p.m., at Gail Miller Field.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.