After falling to the host UNLV Rebels, 8-0, in the first game of the evening, Utah Valley University softball responded by defeating in-state foe Southern Utah in the nightcap to split a pair of games at the Sportco Kick Off Classic on Saturday night at Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas.
The win over SUU marked UVU's first victory of the year, as it improved to 1-3 on the young season. The Thunderbirds (0-4) remain winless with the setback.
"I was really proud of the kids for responding. We had a tough game last night as well as another here this evening against UNLV, but yet they managed to battle back and fight well," head UVU coach TJ Hubbard said. "I thought we did a good job of staying focused. Addie (Jensen) pitched a great game, the defense was solid and we finally got the offense kicking. It was fun to see the girls work collectively as a group."
Game two vs. SUU
After scoring just one run in the past two ballgames, the Wolverine offense struck first by driving in a run in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead over the Thunderbirds. Following a one-out walk from Abbie Tuttle and a double from Basia Query, UVU looked to have something brewing with two runners in scoring position. Lyndsay Steverson promptly followed with an RBI groundout to drive in Tuttle and give UVU a 1-0 advantage.
Utah Valley then pushed across two more runs in the third to extend its lead to 3-0. Kirsten Andersen and Karly Bunderson led off the frame with a respective walk and infield hit to put two on with nobody out. After a passed ball advanced both runners into scoring position and a strikeout, Query drove in Andersen with an RBI single to left to make it 2-0. Steverson then drove in the third run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-0.
The T-Birds countered back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the third to pull within a run, at 3-2, but back answered UVU with five in the fourth to take an 8-2 advantage. With the bases loaded with just one away, Caragh Morris delivered the big blow with a pinch-hit grand slam to right to give Utah Valley a 7-2 lead. The Wolverines later added an insurance run in the frame when Taleigh Williams drove home Query who had singled earlier in the inning to make it 8-2.
Utah Valley starter Addie Jensen and reliever Lexi Sorensen didn't allow a run the rest of the way, as they teamed up to shut down the T-Bird offense. Jensen allowed just six hits and two runs while striking out five and walking two in 6.1 innings of work to improve to 1-1 on the season. Sorensen came on in the seventh and retired two of the three batters she faced to seal the victory.
Query led the Wolverines at the plate in the contest by going a perfect 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Morris finished with a 1-for-2 showing with four runs batted in and a run scored.
Saturday's win over SUU marked UVU's sixth victory over the T-Birds in its last seven tries.
Game one vs. UNLV
In the first game of the night, the Mountain West Rebels (3-1) were the first to get on the scoreboard by driving in a pair of first-inning runs. The first run of the night came home on a wild pitch, while the second came home on an RBI single from Myranda Bueno to make it 2-0.
UNLV then scored two more runs in the third and another in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead. All three runs came in unearned, however, as UVU committed a pair of defensive miscues in each of the two innings.
The Rebels then scored three more runs in the last of the fifth to put the game away via the run rule.
Utah Valley had its best chance to score in the contest in the third inning when Andersen singled, stole second and moved to third on a bunt single from UNLV transfer Bunderson with just one away in the inning. UNLV's Charlie Masterson retired the next two hitters, however, to escape the jam unscathed.
Makayla Shadle suffered the defeat in the circle for the Wolverines to drop to 0-1 on the year, while Masterson went the distance for the Rebels to improve to 2-0.
Bunderson, Andersen, Steverson and Morris recorded a hit apiece for the Wolverines in the ballgame.
Up next for UVU
The Wolverines conclude the opening tournament on Sunday by taking on North Dakota State at 12:15 p.m. MT. Following the contest, UVU will return to Utah for a doubleheader against SUU in St. George on Sunday, Feb. 25.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.