Wolverines unable to complete the sweep against DSU, fall 7-6

Kalena Shepherd follows through after a big swing (Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics).

The Utah Valley softball team came up just short of sweeping the Dixie State Trailblazers in a 7-6 heartbreaker on Friday, April 22 at Wolverine Softball Field in Orem, Utah. After the Trailblazers jumped to an early 3-0 lead, the Wolverines responded with a four-run third inning. However, the Trailblazers compiled a four-run fifth inning and fought off a two-run seventh-inning rally by the Wolverines to prevent the series sweep. The Wolverines now drop to 18-19 on the season and 9-9 in WAC play but remain in third place in the WAC West Division. 

The Wolverines finished the series with 35 hits, 27 runs scored, 24 runners batted in, and nine extra-base hits to compound a .422 hitting average. After the hitting fest, Madison Carr had seven hits, Linnah Rebolledo had six, and Laynee Betancur and Kalena Shepherd finished the series with five hits and eight RBIs. 

The Trailblazers finished the weekend with 29 hits, 13 runs scored, 10 RBIs, seven extra-base hits, and a .363 hitting average. Carly Eldredge and Laura Lockard finished the series with five hits while Hannah Hughbanks, Kasey Crawford, and Rachel Campbell finished with four hits apiece. 

The Trailblazers were able to start the first inning by getting two runners on base with one out; however, Wolverines’ starting pitcher Katie Zuniga was able to strand them after retiring two straight.  

Trailblazers’ starting pitcher Carissa Burgess responded in the bottom of the first by retiring the Wolverines in 1-2-3 order. 

The Trailblazers knocked on the door again in the top of the second, starting with two runners in scoring position. Madison Duryea started the scoring with a sacrifice fly out to score Oaklee Trapp to give DSU the first lead of the game 1-0. Carly Eldredge followed with a single to center field that scored Laura Lockard to put the Trailblazers up 2-0, Eldredge was able to advance on the throw. Fortunately for the Wolverines, Zuniga was able to escape further trouble by striking out Kasey Crawford to end the inning. 

In the bottom of the second, the Wolverines were able to Rylee Thorpe and Peyton Prigge on first and second, respectively, with two outs to respond; however, Burgess was able to strand two after striking out Karleigh Olsen. 

After a base hit up the middle by Hannah Hughbanks to start the top of the third, Wolverines’ pitcher Brooke Carter came in relief for Zuniga. Shea Clements hit a weak bunt to advance Hughbanks to third. A few at-bats later, Lauren Almeida lined the ball to left field to score Hughbanks, giving DSU a 3-0 edge before Trapp lined out to end the inning. 

Laynee Betancur was able to get things started for UVU in the bottom of the third, singling up the middle. The game then came to a lightning delay for three hours. 

After the delay, Madison Carr hit a slow-roller bunt for a single to put two Wolverines on base. Rebolledo reached base after a fielding error, setting up a Kalena Shepherd base clearing three RBI triple that scored Betancur, Carr, and Rebolledo to tie the game 3-3. Shepherd advanced to third base after a wild pitch by Burgess, setting up a hit through the right side for Mikaela Thomson that scored Shepherd, giving the Wolverines their first lead of the game 4-3. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the Trailblazers were able to get three straight outs to end the inning.

After a scoreless fourth, the Trailblazers were able to get things going in the top of the fifth with a two-out single by Rachel Campbell. A few at-bats later, Trapp reached base on a dropped fly by Wolverine shortstop Rylee Thorpe that scored Campbell and Almeida, while advancing Trapp to second base to put DSU up 5-4. Locked immediately followed by hammering a two-run down the infield line, scoring her and Trapp and giving the Trailblazers a 7-4 advantage. 

Despite dominant pitching and defense by both teams in the following innings, the Wolverines weren’t going down without a fight in the bottom of the seventh. After Rebolledo took a walk, Shepherd hit a two-run home run blast into right field to put the Wolverines back within one, making the score 7-6. Thomson followed with a soft bouncer through the right side to add more pressure. Thorpe was able to reach base on a fielder’s choice that got Thomson out. However, the game came to an end after a Barajas strikeout.

The Wolverines finished the game with seven hits, six RBIs, two extra-base hits, and a .259 hitting average, but unfortunately struck out seven times and left six runners stranded on base. Accounting for four of the seven Wolverine hits were Linnah Rebolledo and Kalena Shepherd, with Shepherd also batting in five of the Wolverines’ runs and scoring two as well. 

The Trailblazers had 11 hits, five RBIs, four extra-base hits, and only struck out twice, but also left six on base. Hannah Hughbanks and Laura Lockard (one home run) tied for a game-high three hits, followed by Carly Eldredge with two hits, and three others had one hit. Five different ‘Blazers scored as well. 

The loss snaps a six-game WAC winning streak for the Wolverines and finishes the Old Hammer Rivalry regular-season series in a 3-3 tie. Trailblazers’ Carissa Burgess also only surrendered eight hits.

The Wolverines now head north to take on the Utah Utes at Dumke Family Softball Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. The game can be streamed through the Utah Live Stream. The Wolverines will then come back home to Wolverine Softball Field in Orem, Utah to take on in-state rivals the Utah State Aggies before going on a three-game road trip to Seattle, Washington to take on Seattle University. 

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