Softball: Frailey, Vansway shine during rebuilding season

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Photo by Sarah Sanchez
On the surface, the 2017 UVU softball season might not look like much. Finishing with a 16-24 overall record and a 7-8 record in the WAC, the Wolverines weren’t quite able to play .500 ball this season. However, when placed in the context of the previous three seasons, in which UVU combined for a 45-126 record and just an 11-33 conference record, the signs of progress are visible for the Wolverine program following new head coach TJ Hubbard’s first season. One stat that jumps off the page is the team’s home record. The Wolverines were 11-3 playing on their own field, which is something to build on going into next year.
Leading the way for the culture-changing 2017 campaign were junior pitcher Lauren Frailey, who was named WAC Pitcher of the Year, and senior third baseman Brittney Vansway, who was named to the All-WAC first team.
It took a while for UVU to get its first win of the year, as the team started 0-8, but five of those eight losses were by three or fewer runs and three were one-run games. They lost only one game by the run rule in that stretch as opposed to last year, when they were run ruled three times in their first eight losses.
The turnaround was quick. The Wolverines immediately followed the opening losing streak with four straight wins and seven wins in the next eight games. The only loss in that stretch was a one-run game against the University of Nevada.
Following nonconference play, UVU battled through WAC matchups to a near-.500 record. The team finished league play sweeping a home series against the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which allowed the Wolverines to climb to the No. 3 seed in the WAC tournament. However, they were quickly swept out of the tournament with an 8-5 loss to Seattle University and a 12-8 loss to UMKC.
The lack of postseason success notwithstanding, Frailey had a remarkable season pitching for UVU. She finished with a 3.59 ERA and a 12-9 record in 19 starts and 32 appearances. Frailey gave up just eight home runs in 126.2 innings pitched en route to being named the WAC Pitcher of the Year. Vansway, named to the All-WAC first team, led the Wolverine offense all year and finished with a .376 batting average. She led the team in hits, home runs and RBIs with 47, 13 and 52 respectively. It was Vansway’s third consecutive season being named to the conference first team.
Outfielder Caragh Morris was named to a conference award at the end of the season as WAC Freshman of the Year. Morris finished just behind Vansway in batting average at .357 and hits with 45. She led the team in doubles with eight, hit three home runs and had 28 RBIs. The Wolverines also made several appearances in the weekly WAC awards throughout the season. Frailey was named pitcher of the week three times, and Vansway and Lyndsay Steverson were each named hitter of the week once. Steverson finished the season second on the team to Vansway in home runs and RBIs with 12 and 35 and was one of five Wolverines who finished the season batting over .300 with at least 100 at bats.
Despite the disappointing finish in the 2017 postseason, the Wolverines have a lot to hang their hats on for the future. With the WAC Freshman of the Year and WAC Pitcher of the Year returning with Morris and Frailey and a solid incoming recruiting class, the arrow is pointed up for the future of Wolverine softball and Hubbard is just the coach to lead them there.