The Utah Valley University softball team finished off a crucial three-game sweep over CSU Bakersfield with a 7-2 victory in the WAC regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon at Roadrunner Softball Complex. With the sweep, the Wolverines have finished the season in second place in the league standings and locked up the two seed and a first-round bye for the upcoming WAC Tournament.
With Saturday's victory, UVU (19-24) finishes with a 10-4 conference record. The 10 wins and the second-place conference finish are both program highs for the Wolverines since joining the WAC five seasons ago. The Wolverines have also won nine of their last 11 ballgames. The 2018 WAC Tournament will be held May 9-12, at the NM State Softball Complex in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the tournament bracket will be released after all games have concluded on Saturday evening.
Kaylee Bott and Lyndsay Steverson led the way for the Wolverine offense on Saturday by each collecting two hits, which included a home run apiece. The reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year Lauren Frailey Spendlove and Makayla Shadle too had strong outings in the circle for UVU by combining to allow just one earned run and seven hits on the day.
"I believe that these wins are an account of us growing closer as a unit. We knew that we needed these wins to secure the second seed at the WAC Tournament, so we came together and everyone contributed to these wins," senior infielder Taleigh Williams said. "We are very happy to have secured this spot going into the WAC Tournament, and now all we need to do is keep it going."
Utah Valley's offense erupted in the early stages of the ballgame to jump out to a 6-0 lead. Steverson started the scoring with a first-inning two-run homer to left to give the Wolverines an early 2-0 advantage. Bott then continued her strong series with her second home run of the weekend in a second — a solo shot to left center to make it 3-0.
The Wolverines tacked on three more runs in the top of the fourth to extend their lead to 6-0. After Kirsten Andersen set the UVU school record for being hit by the pitch for the 17th time in her career with one out in the frame, Brianna Moeller then drove her home with an RBI triple to center to make it 4-0. Williams followed with a pinch-hit RBI triple of her own to plate Moeller and extend UVU's lead to 5-0. Peyton Angulo finished the fourth-inning rally with an RBI single to center for Utah Valley's sixth run.
The Roadrunners (6-36, 3-12 WAC) then pushed across an unearned run in the last of the fourth and another run in the fifth thanks to a solo round-tripper from Arianna Felix to make it a 6-2 game.
Utah Valley later answered with an insurance run in the top of the seventh to take a 7-2 lead. Bott started the rally with a two-out double to left center, and Morris followed by driving her home with an RBI single to left center to give the Wolverines the late five-run cushion.
CSUB made things interesting in the last of the seventh by loading the bases with two away, but the UVU senior Shadle pitched out of the jam by drawing the game-ending groundout off the bat of Kaylynn Burt to help the Wolverines record the weekend sweep.
The sweep marks Utah Valley's second three-game conference sweep of the season, as the Wolverines previously swept a three-game series from UMKC in Kansas City.
Four players finished with two hits apiece in the ballgame for UVU. Angulo and Steverson each went 2-for-3, while Bott and Morris finished with 2-for-4 outings. All four Wolverines also drove in at least one run apiece in the ballgame. Burt paced Bakersfield by going 2-for-3 with a run scored and a walk.
Frailey Spendlove (4-4) earned her fourth victory of the season in the circle for the Wolverines after giving up just one earned run (two total) in 4.2 innings of work, while Shadle came on and didn't allow a hit or a run in 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Summer Evans dropped to 1-20 on the year for CSUB after giving up three runs in 2.0 innings of work.
"I think the quote, 'It's not how you start, it's how you finish' perfectly sums up our year so far. We still had a lot of growing to do during our first weekend of conference play. We've worked hard every practice and have really started coming together as a team," junior pitcher Addie Jensen said. "My favorite part about this team is how every person has embraced their role. Right now we are playing selfless softball. Every pitch we are focused and ready to get our job done. From the starters to the bench everyone is invested in succeeding and it's really fun to be a part of."
The Wolverines will step out of conference play next week for their final four games of the regular season. UVU will first take on neighboring rival BYU for a UCCU Crosstown Clash on Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m. MT, in Provo, before closing its regular season with a three-game non-conference series at Nevada on May 5-6, in Reno. With a first-round bye in the WAC Tournament, Utah Valley will then open its 2018 conference tournament on Thursday, May 10, at 1 p.m., against a to be determined opponent.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.