ST. GEORGE, Utah. – The Nevada softball team extended its season-high winning streak to seven games after winning both of its contests at the Red Desert Classic on Saturday. With its 16-3 win over Southern Utah and 10-4 victory versus Utah Valley, the Wolf Pack improved its record to 10-9 on the season.
For the second day in a row, Nevada’s offense exploded as the team batted .407 (24-for-59) with three home runs, which resulted in a total of 26 runs scored. The Pack’s pitching staff also performed well as junior Kali Sargent struck out a season-high nine batters against the Thunderbirds (1-14), while freshman Julia Jensen recorded a career-best 14 punchouts against the Wolverines (3-7). Between both Sargent and Jensen, they combined to allow just two walks on the day.
Senior Erika Hansen went 3-for-4 on the day with seven RBIs and two three-run home runs. She now leads the team in home runs (5), RBIs (18) and slugging percentage (.740). Sophomore Sadaria McAlister recorded a pair of hits in each game today and has now extended her hitting streak to 13 games. Her classmate Kwynn Warner went 5-for-7 with five runs scored and was joined by sophomore Kenzi Goins as the only two players to record three hits against Southern Utah.
The Wolf Pack’s offense had no troubles getting started versus the Thunderbirds as the team scored three runs in the top of the first inning, courtesy of the first four batters reaching base. With Nevada already ahead 3-0, the Pack followed its strong first inning with back-to-back five-run innings in the second and third.
After Warner doubled home McAlister in the second for the Pack’s fifth run of the game, Goins singled up the middle to put two runners on for Hansen, who broke the game wide open with her three-run shot over the left-centerfield fence to put Nevada up 8-0. Nevada’s offense didn’t stop though.
Already up eight runs, the Pack crossed the plate five more times in the third but not before sophomore Haley Burda made a statement of her own with one swing of the bat. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Burda worked the at-bat back in her favor as she took a 3-2 pitch over the wall with the bases loaded for the first grand slam of her career.
The Pack took its 13-0 lead into the fourth looking for more offense, tacking on three more runs to push its lead to 16. After the Thunderbirds responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth, Sargent retired the final batter she saw via strikeout to seal the 16-3 win for Nevada.
Against Utah Valley, the Wolverines jumped out first, scoring a run in the opening inning off of a solo home run but Nevada never backed down, responding with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead. After Utah Valley came back in the top of the third with another solo shot that tied the game, Nevada put together another rebuttal in the bottom of the inning.
After Warner led off the bottom half of the third with a single through the left side, Goins followed her with a base-knock of her own to but two runners on for Hansen with nobody out. Hansen then connected on a no-doubter over the right field fence for her second home run of the day to help put Nevada back ahead by three runs, 5-2.
Utah Valley showed its fight throughout the game as the Wolverines came back in the top of the fifth and scored a pair of runs to cut the Nevada lead to just one run. Nevada’s offense proved to be too much though, as the Pack responded right away with five more runs in the bottom of the fifth to push its lead to 10-4.
The six-run cushion was all the Jensen need to cement the win as she retired the side in order in the top of the seventh to give Nevada the win. The Pack will conclude its weekend at the Red Desert Classic on Sunday with a matchup against Montana. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. PT.