For the first time in the Cody Thomson era, the Utah Valley softball team picked up a WAC series sweep, defeating the California Baptist Lancers in the final game of its three-game series 6-3 at Wolverine Field in Orem on Saturday.
Katie Zuniga (7-6) picked up her second complete-game win of the series, giving up three earned runs and striking out five. Mikaela Thomson was stellar on both sides of the ball, making a couple diving snags at first base while also going 2-for-3 with an RBI double.
The victory moved the Wolverines (16-17, 7-8 WAC) into sole possession of third place in the WAC West division, dropping the Lancers (24-24, 6-9 WAC) to fourth. More importantly, the win widens the gap between UVU and fifth-place Dixie State to two games, as the top four teams in each division make the WAC softball tournament, which is set to be held May 11-13 in Huntsville, Texas.
The Lancers wasted no time getting on the board in the top of the first. Sydney Soto tripled down the right field line to open the game, then she was driven in on a groundout by Priscilla Estrada on the next at-bat.
CBU kept the pressure on in the second inning with a pair of singles sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt to start the inning. A fielder’s choice put the runners at second and third with two outs, but a grounder to short off the bat of Soto was too hot to handle and brought a runner in for the Lancers.
Thomson nearly had extra bases to start the bottom half of the second, but her scalding shot down the left field line hooked foul and she had to settle for a walk. The foul ball was the only strike Lancer starter Alyssa Argomaniz would throw in the inning, as she issued back-to-back four-pitch walks to Rylee Thorpe and Megan Gibbs before giving way to Jazmine Castaneda.
CBU looked like they had at least one out on a grounder to third, but Lancer catcher Mackenzie San Pedro couldn’t hold on to the throw, bringing in Thomson from third. Karleigh Olsen drove in Thorpe on a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game back up at two. Madison Carr reached on a hit-by-pitch to load the bases once again, and Linnah Rebolledo reached on an error to bring in the go-ahead run.
Zuniga bounced back with a shutdown inning, retiring the Lancers in order with the help of some outstanding defense from her teammates. Thomson stole the show with a diving snag at first base for the second out of the frame.
The Lancers gave away another rally in the third with a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch to set the table for UVU. Jordan Freas stepped up as a pinch hitter and smoked a single to right field to bring in a pair of runs to give the Wolverines a 5-2 lead. Carr looped a single into center on the next at-bat, but Olsen was thrown out at home for the final out of the inning.
Nicole Stark opened the fourth for the Lancers with a double to right-center that was just out of the reach of Carr. Stark later came around to score on a single from Raegen Cheyne to cut the UVU lead down to 5-3.
Rebolledo led off the bottom of the inning with a single to right field. Two batters later, Thomson hit her eighth double of the season to drive in Rebolledo and extend the Wolverine lead back up to three.
After a scoreless fifth from both sides, CBU seemed poised to get back on the board in the top of the sixth with a pair of singles to lead off the inning and a wild pitch to put the runners in scoring position and no outs. Zuniga slammed the door on the rally, forcing a soft lineout to shortstop between a pair of punchouts to end the inning.
Zuniga had little trouble in the seventh, retiring the Lancers in order on a flyout to right, a groundout to third and a lineout to second to end the game and cap off the sweep.
UVU will hit the road for its shortest road trip of the season — a midweek tilt with the BYU Cougars at Gail Miller Field in Provo. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. MDT and the game will be broadcast on BYUtv and the BYUtv app.
Senior Staff Writer
Nathan is a senior studying Communications. In addition to covering UVU athletics for The Review, Nathan also covers BYU athletics for ESPN 960. Nathan hails from the Bay Area in California, and keeps tabs on the Giants, 49ers, and Warriors in his spare time.