The Utah Valley University softball team split an in-state doubleheader against Southern Utah University on Sunday afternoon at Dixie State's Karl Brooks Field in St. George. The Wolverines took the opener, 14-1, before SUU responded to take game two by a score of 8-0.
With the twin bill split, UVU improves to 2-5 on the young season, while the Thunderbirds improve to 1-11.
Utah Valley managed to jump all over SUU's pitching staff in the top of the first inning in the opener, as the Wolverines managed to drive in 13 first-inning runs. UVU recorded 11 hits in the frame — four of which that were for extra bases — on its way to sending a total of 18 batters to the plate.
Following a leadoff single from Karly Bunderson, Abbie Tuttle drove home the first run of the game with an RBI single to make it 1-0. Caragh Morris then delivered a two-run double three batters later to make it 3-0. Following a Taleigh Williams single, Kaylee Bott then drove home a run via an RBI single and Kawehi Kahana followed with a pinch-hit RBI double to make it 5-0. With two outs in the frame, the sixth run came in on a T-Bird error, and the seventh, eighth and ninth runs came home on bases-loaded walks to give UVU a 9-0 lead. With the bases still loaded and two away, the senior Williams then delivered the big blow of the breakout inning with a grand slam to left center to give the Wolverines a 13-0 advantage. Following hits from Bott and Skylar Cook, the inning mercifully came to an end when SUU's Hannah Lilly managed to strike out Kirsten Andersen.
With UVU still holding a 13-0 lead in the last of the second, SUU's Mikaela Thomson blasted out a solo homer to left to make it 13-1. The hit would be the only that Utah Valley starter Addie Jensen (2-2) would allow, however, as she wouldn't give up another hit or run in her 3.1 innings of solid work en route to earning the victory. Reliever Lexi Sorensen then came on to pitch the final 1.2 innings for the Wolverines of the five-inning contest, and Sorensen wouldn't be outdone, as she allowed just one hit herself on the way to pitching a combined two-hitter. The Wolverine duo combined to strike out five and walk just one on its way to giving up just one run on two hits in the run-rule shortened contest.
With the score still 13-1 in the top of the fifth, Utah Valley managed to tack on an insurance run when freshman Peyton Angulo drove in Alex Valencia via a two-out RBI single to right to make it 14-1.
Bott and Williams led UVU offensively by going a combined 5-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored. Bott went a perfect 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while Williams went 2-for-3 with a homer, four RBIs and two runs scored.
As a team, the Wolverine offense combined to produce 14 hits and 14 runs in the opener. The 14 runs marked the most that UVU has scored since March 14, 2017, when it defeated Maine at Wolverine Field by a score of 14-3.
The T-Birds responded in game two, as they were the first to break through in the last of the third inning with a pair of runs to take a 2-0 lead. Following a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt, SUU's Kendall Kapitzke drove out a two-run home run to give the Thunderbirds their first lead of the day.
After banging out 14 hits in the first game, UVU didn't collect its first hit of the nightcap until the fourth inning when Eryn Sustayta managed to record a two-out single up the middle to put runners on first and second. SUU's Haley Wall managed to escape the jam, however, by retiring Bott to keep it a 2-0 ballgame.
The Wolverines then threatened again in the fifth when Cook and Bunderson both dropped down a pair of bunt singles to put runners on first and third with just one away. The T-Birds managed to escape the threat, however, when Lyndsay Steverson grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Southern Utah added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth when Taylei Williams delivered a two-run home run and Kalei Watkins followed with a three-run round tripper of her own to give SUU a 7-0 advantage.
The Thunderbirds then put the game away in the sixth when SUU's Williams drove in Madison Tuft with an RBI single to center to seal the six-inning run-rule victory.
Jensen (2-3) took the loss in the circle for the Wolverines after allowing two earned runs on three hits in 4.0 innings, while Wall (1-2) recorded SUU's first win of the year after giving up just three hits and no runs while striking out three and walking two in 6.0 innings of work.
Bunderson, Sustayta and Cook led the way for UVU at the plate by recording one hit apiece, while SUU's Williams went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and one run scored.
Up next for UVU
The Wolverines return to St. George again next weekend for the Red Desert Classic. The tournament will run March 2-4, at the Canyons Complex, and UVU will face in-state foe Weber State on March 2, Boise State and Nevada on March 3 and Weber State and SUU again on March 4.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.