Kaylee Bott drove home the go-ahead run in each game of Friday's WAC softball twin bill en route to leading Utah Valley to a doubleheader sweep over CSU Bakersfield at Roadrunner Softball Complex in Bakersfield, 8-7 and 2-1.
Bott drove home a total of four runs on the day, including a seventh-inning go-ahead three-run home run in game one and a fourth-inning go-ahead RBI single in game two. Maykayla Shadle too was key for the Wolverines on the day, as she recorded the save in the opener, as well as a complete-game gem in the nightcap. Shadle allowed just one unearned run on three hits while striking seven to record her sixth victory of the season in game two.
With the doubleheader sweep, Utah Valley improves to 18-24 overall and 9-4 in WAC play with just one league game remaining on Saturday. With a victory on Saturday, the Wolverines will finish the conference season in second place and lock up the No. 2 seed for the upcoming WAC Tournament and a first-round bye. UVU has now won eight of its last 10 ballgames. CSUB drops to 6-35 overall and 3-11 in league play with the pair of setbacks.
"Today was a huge stepping stone for us as a team. We found ourselves in a bit of a hole early in game one but continued to chip away throughout and sharpen things up to get the comeback victory," said junior infielder Bott. "We fought and continued to do it for each other all day and that was what I loved overall about today."
The Wolverine offense didn't waste any time getting things going in the opener, as they drove in a pair of first-inning runs to jump out to a 2-0 advantage. Brianna Moeller started the rally with a leadoff double to right and later came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Lyndsay Steverson to make it 1-0. With Skylar Cook and Basia Query later leading from second and third with one away, Peyton Angulo then drove Cook home with an RBI groundout to give UVU the 2-0 lead.
CSUB answered right back with three runs of its own in the bottom of the first to take a 3-2 lead. Ariana Acedo, Paige Johnson and Evelyn Mendoza all delivered two-out RBI hits in the frame to give the 'Runners the early lead. CSU Bakersfield then tacked on two more unearned runs in the second thanks to a pair of UVU defensive miscues to extend its advantage to 5-2.
The Roadrunner offense continued to produce in the third, as it tacked on two more runs thanks to a two-run home run from Chris Hipa to extend CSUB's lead to 7-2.
UVU then again got things going in the top of the fifth by driving home two more runs to make it a 7-4 deficit. Following a single from Query and a double from Steverson, Madison Sisco plated Query and the pinch-runner Karly Bunderson with a two-run, two-out single through the left side to make it a three-run game.
Still trailing 7-4 entering the top of the seventh, the Wolverines rallied en route to scoring four runs to take an 8-7 advantage. After Steverson singled and Angulo reached on a catcher's interference call, Sisco drove home the first run of the frame with a one-out RBI single to center to make it 7-5. After Linnah Rebolledo and Kiara Kennedy then entered the game as pinch runners, Bott delivered the big hit with a go-ahead three-run home run to left to give the Wolverines an 8-7 lead.
CSUB then got a two-out hit from Johnson to put the tying runner on base in the last of the seventh, but Utah Valley's Shadle came on to strike out Hipa and end the threat.
UVU's Lauren Frailey Spendlove (3-4) picked up the victory for the Wolverines in the circle after giving up just two runs on four hits in 4.2 innings of solid relief, while Shadle was credited with her second save of the year after striking out the lone batter that she faced. Bakersfield's Summer Evans (1-19) took the loss after allowing six earned runs in the complete-game effort.
Four players finished with two hits apiece in the ballgame for the Wolverines. Sisco and Bott led the way by each going 2-for-4 with three runs batted in, while Steverson posted a 2-for-3 outing with a run scored and a run batted in and Moeller went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Hipa paced CSUB by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored.
The Roadrunners jumped out to a 1-0 lead in game two thanks to a two-out first-inning RBI hit from Johnson. The Wolverines answered with a run of their own in the top of the third inning to knot the game at 1-1. After Caragh Morris was hit by a pitch and Kirsten Andersen doubled, Moeller drove Morris home with an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1-all.
UVU then manufactured another run in the fourth to take its first lead of the nightcap at 2-1. Steverson started the inning with a leadoff walk, and pinch-runner Karly Bunderson later came in to score on the go-ahead two-out RBI single from Bott to give the Wolverines the 2-1 lead.
Utah Valley's starter Shadle then dazzled from there, as she gave up just two hits and no runs down the stretch. Shadle retired the side in the fourth and fifth innings, and she pitched around a hit in both the sixth and seventh on her way to earn the complete-game victory.
Shadle improves to 6-8 on the year with the victory, while Daryn Hitzel drops to 4-9 after giving up two runs on four hits.
As a team, UVU recorded just four hits in the contest. Steverson, Angulo, Bott and Andersen tallied a hit apiece, and Bott led the way by going 1-for-3 with a run batted in. Johnson paced CSUB in game two by going 1-for-3 with an RBI.
With the wins, UVU currently finds itself tied for second in the WAC standings with New Mexico State.
"What we did today is setting us up for success in future tournament play. Every team is out to get us, and we are proving that we are going to be their toughest battle," junior outfielder Moeller said. "Whenever we fall behind, I never doubt this team. We have so much heart and play until the very last out. No one deserves this more than us."
The series concludes on Saturday with the final WAC regular-season contest of the season for both teams at 2 p.m. MT. The contest will be streamed live on the WAC Digital Network. Following the ballgame, the Wolverines will return to Utah for a UCCU Crosstown Clash against neighboring rival BYU on Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m., at Gail Miller Field in Provo.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.