Wolverines fall to crosstown rival BYU 2-0

The Utah Valley softball team came out on the wrong end of a shutout, falling to the BYU Cougars 2-0 Wednesday at Gail Miller Field in Provo. 

Chloe Temples (9-3) was nearly untouchable for the Cougars, scattering three hits over a complete game shutout. Temples struck out 10 Wolverines on the evening and faced just two batters over the minimum, retiring 21 of the 24 UVU hitters she faced. Brooke Carter (8-7) took the loss, allowing two runs over three innings pitched. 

“These midweeks are a postseason type of feel, and these are the types of teams we’re going to play [in the postseason], and that’s what we’re preparing for,” said UVU head coach Cody Thomson. “We’re preparing to go win our conference tournament in Texas, and go to the postseason, and this is what it’s going to feel like.”

Madison Carr reached base to lead off the game and etched her name in the UVU softball record books in the process. Carr’s infield single meant she had reached base in a school-record 28-straight games, breaking former Wolverine Lyndsey Steverson’s previous record of 27-straight games set across the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Coach Thomson knew this was something Carr was capable of, pointing to some offseason adjustments that brought the best out of her game.

“Madison’s my niece, and I’ve coached her my whole life. I knew coming into this year, her batting average wasn’t great, and I knew coming into this year that it was going to be different, that it was going to be something to watch. It’s just little tweaks. I knew her on-base percentage was going to be through the roof. It’s just been a good opportunity to be able to coach her again and get her back to the roots of what makes her really good, which is her speed.”

The Cougars got on the board in the second inning courtesy of some small ball. Marissa Chavez started things off with a single to right-center, and she was immediately bunted over to second on a sacrifice by Macy Simmons. Chavez advanced to third on a fly out to left that caused Linnah Rebolledo and Madison Carr to collide, but Rebolledo was able to hold on for the out.

Chavez came in to score on the next at-bat after HannahJo Peterson showed bunt then slapped a single past Megan Gibbs, who was drawn in at third base. The damage could have been worse in the inning as Martha Epenesa scorched a foul ball that had plenty of distance for a home run, but Peterson was thrown out stealing on the subsequent pitch. 

BYU doubled its lead to two in the third, but certainly threatened for much more. Taylei Williams started the rally with a single, and she came around to score after a walk and another single by Huntyr Ava. Just about everyone besides the Wolverines thought the Cougars had another base hit off the bat of Chavez, but her line drive was caught by Carr in center and Ava was doubled off at second to end the threat. 

Katie Zuniga came on in relief of Carter in the fourth inning for the Wolverines and picked up right where she left off over the weekend against California Baptist with a three-up, three-down inning. Zuniga pitched around some trouble in the fifth and sixth, but ultimately ended her day with three scoreless innings. Coach Thomson said there’s been some growing pains this year coaching Zuniga for the first time, but he believes they’ve worked out the kinks.

“Katie does a really good job of mixing speeds, going up and down, and [we’ve been] trying to figure out what she needs to do at what time, studying hitters, and she’s been doing great with her locations the last month.”

The Wolverines had their best chance in the fifth following a leadoff double off the bat of Mikaela Thomson. Thomson advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt but was stranded there. Kalena Shepherd singled with one out in the seventh, but Temples retired the final two batters to close out the game. 

Despite the loss, Coach Thomson feels like his team is hitting its stride at the right time.

“I feel like we’re hitting our stride. We had our first sweep of the year against Cal Baptist, and I think we’re going in the right direction. We have an opportunity this weekend to play Dixie State, and if we have a good series there, we’ll go into Seattle with a shot to boost up a couple more spots. We’re hitting really well, I feel like we’re pitching really well. The defense is coming right along.”

The Wolverines have a quick turnaround, continuing Rivalry Week by hosting Dixie State for a three-game series at Wolverine Field. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Thursday and a single game on Friday. Thursday’s games are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and all three games can both be streamed on the WAC Digital Network.

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