Tim Castaneda, Sports Writer, @xTIMBOxSLICEx
UVU softball’s Haley Kofler hit a grand slam and Bailey Moore pitched a no-hit shutout on the road, as they led UVU to a 13-0 blow-out Saturday afternoon in UVU’s first-ever victory against BYU at Gail Miller Field.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Moore only needed to retire three-straight Cougar batters to earn her first-ever, no-hit shutout. It started with Moore striking out the lead-off batter Brittany Call. Following the strikeout, BYU’s Megan Arnold struck the ball straight to Moore, who then threw her out at first. Then, UVU’s Tayleigh Williams fielded a grounder at third base, positioned herself and threw out BYU’s Ashley Godfrey at first for the final out of the game.
Moore went five innings tallying two strikeouts and five walks for her eighth win of the season. She credited the defense behind her for the success she had on the mound today.
“It feels pretty great,” said Moore. “But I can’t do it without my defense. They get the ball in play and it’s up to them to get the outs. They did a great job today.”
As impressive as UVU’s pitching showed it was, the team’s defense also showed impressive ability by turning two double plays on the day, including a great play by shortstop Tiani Hensley in fourth inning. With two outs to go, Hensley caught a line-drive hit by BYU’s McKenzie St. Clair and then threw out a BYU runner at first to keep Moore’s no-hitter alive.
UVU head coach Nikki Palmer praised her team for putting together an all-around performance, both offensively and defensively, on the diamond in the Wolverines’ big day in Provo.
“A hundred percent total team effort, up-and-down all the way,” she said. “From the pinch runners that were aggressive with good reads on the bases, all the way to Bailey, the defense behind her, Tiani (Hensley) coming up with a big one to save the no- hitter and up-and-down the line up just taking care of business. People that didn’t get hits today still got on base with walks. It shows a lot of discipline and heart.”
The Wolverines’ bats steamed as hot as Moore’s throwing arm, as they scored 13 runs on seven hits for the day to back up, and take the pressure off of, their pitcher.
“It’s crazy how much easier it is to pitch when you know your hitters are gonna come up behind you, and they did,” said Moore. “They started that way, so I started with confidence because I knew they were behind me from the very beginning.”
Brianna Gatlin started the hot hitting for UVU at the top of the first when she hit an RBI single to center field, which BYU’s centerfielder Gordy Bravo was unable to get a hold of. Then four batters later, Kofler hit a deep ball over left field fence to open up an early 5-0 lead and set the tone for her team.
“Any time you hit a grand slam at the beginning of the game, it’s a good game,” said coach Palmer. “You know you’re going to do well when you do that.”
That momentum carried all the way over to the fifth and final inning of the game, as UVU piled on four more runs to cap off another big inning to complete a wonderful day at the plate.
On in relief, BYU pitchers Arianna Paulson and Ashley Thompson struggled to put away the Wolverines at the top of the fifth, walking four batters and giving up an RBI single to Brianna Gatlin over BYU shortstop Alexa Strid to give UVU a commanding 13-0 lead.
Kofler led all UVU batters with 4 RBIs, while going 1-for-3 at the plate. Gatlin followed with 3 RBIs, as she went a perfect 3-for-3 and drew one walk. Taleigh Williams and Brittney Vansway each added 2 RBIs, and Jaylen Watson and Erin Romero each had one to close out the Wolverine scoring.
BYU pitcher McKenna Bull, who started on the mound for the Cougars, was credited with the loss after she struggled through two innings, giving up seven earned runs, five hits and four walks. She also tallied four strikeouts.
UVU softball improves to a 12-20 record, while also ending the team’s five-game losing stream with the win.
The team now travels Eugene, Ore., to play a double-header versus the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks on Wednesday, March 25, beginning at 5 p.m. MT.