Know thy enemy: A preview of the week in UVU sports
Photo by Mykah Heaton
It’s conference tournament week in college basketball and both the men’s and women’s teams will be in Las Vegas hoping to secure some wins in their respective WAC tournaments. For more information regarding those tournaments, see the previews written by Kaleb Searle and Ryan Willie. Meanwhile, the baseball and softball teams will also be on the road.
After finishing its only nonconference home series last week, the baseball team opens up an 11-game road trip. First up is a four-game weekend series in Pullman, Washington against Washington State University. The series marks the first of two PAC-12 matchups this season for the Wolverines, with the other coming against in-state foe Utah. WSU played .500 ball through its first two series of the season, a southern California road trip against Sacramento State and Loyola Marymount.
WSU was outscored by 17 runs in those matchups against non-power five conference teams. The Cougars are led on offense by outfielder Justin Harrer, who so far is posting a .318 batting average with four doubles, a home run and four RBIs in 18 at bats. In the Cougars’ first three wins, their pitching staff allowed four runs or fewer each game. If UVU holds a chance of winning some ball games in Pullman, five runs per game will put the team within reach.
Last season, UVU took three of four against WSU in Pullman and swept Utah to prove it can keep pace with power-conference schools.
The UVU softball team’s weekend in Reno, Nevada at the Nevada Wolf Pack Classic will consist of a pair of double-headers against Saint Mary’s California and Nevada. Both teams have been hovering around a .500 record early this season, but the event taking place on Nevada’s home field may make a difference. It will be the first home games of the season for the Wolf Pack, whose losses have been big this year. Four of their first five losses of the year were by at least seven runs, while the wins have come with a smaller margin. Nevada is led offensively by Alyssa Mendez and Jennifer Purcell, who started the season batting .500 and .438, respectively, with a combined 10 RBIs.
SMC has been able to keep its losses a bit closer than Nevada, with their only blowout coming in an 11-0 thrashing at the hands of California on Feb. 22. The Gaels boast good talent at the top of their pitching staff as Katie Moss and Katlyn Whitt have posted ERAs of 1.74 and 1.93 in the beginning of the season. The offense, however, has struggled with only two players – Hailey Sparacino and Giana Bilotta – batting over .300. If the Wolverine bats can wake up a little through this event, the team could bring home some victories.
Reporting by: Ty Bianucci, Kaleb Searle