The Nevada softball team took control of the Western Athletic Conference race with a sweep over No. 16 Hawai`i on Saturday at Christina M. Hixson Park.
The Wolf Pack, ranked No. 24 in the Ultimate College Softball Coaches Top 25, improved to 31-14 overall and 9-2 in the WAC. The Rainbow Wahine fell to 31-13 overall and 7-3 in the WAC.
Nevada struck first with a 4-1 victory in game one behind a dominating performance in the circle by sophomore Katie Holverson. She improved to 15-5 on the year and lowered her earned-run average to 2.17. She gave up six hits and one earned run. The sophomore struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
The Wolf Pack then swept the doubleheader with a thilling come-from-behind victory in game two, 7-6. Nevada trailed 6-0 after four and a half innings and faced a 6-2 deficit heading into the seventh inning. But the Pack struck for five runs in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game on Danielle Patrick’s RBI single and winning when Michelle Beach belted a pinch-hit RBI single to left field.
Nevada has won three straight games and seven of its last eight games. The Pack has a game and a half lead in the WAC heading into the series finale against Hawaii on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hixson Park.
In game one, Nevada got on the board first with an RBI double from freshman Britton Murdock in the first inning. After Hawaii tied it in the second, junior Brittany Puzey manufactured a run in the third. She doubled down the left-field line and then stole third base. The throw went down the line and Puzey raced home for a 2-1 Nevada lead. Murdock hit an RBI single to make it 3-1 in the fifth and Patrick crushed her third home run of the season in the sixth to give Holverson more than enough runs to work with.
After giving up a run in the second, Holverson retired 17 of the final 20 to close out the game and continue her brilliant play in WAC games. Against conference foes, Holverson improved to 5-0 with a 1.08 ERA. It was her fifth complete game in six conference starts and she has struck out 46 with just 14 walks in league games.
In game two, Hawaii jumped on the board early when Kate Robinson hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Jordan McPherson. The Rainbow Wahine scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
But Nevada got two runs back in the fifth inning when Murdock slapped a two-run double to make it 6-2.
Freshman Noelle Micka led off the seventh with her second career triple. Puzey then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3. Senior Vanessa Briones crushed a Robinson offering for her third career home run to make it a 6-4 game.
Britton Murdock reached on an error by the second baseman and Sam Bias single up the middle to put two on with one out. Bias fouled off 12 pitches with a two-strike count before getting the single.
After Kelsey Starr popped out to the catcher, Kym Silagyi singled to make it 6-5. Patrick then tied the game before Beach delivered the game-winner.