The Utah Valley University softball team continues its preseason tournament play Friday through Sunday, March 4-6, at the San Diego Classic I in San Diego, California. The Wolverines will play a total of five games during the three days at the tournament, with three games being played at the University of San Diego and the other two at San Diego State.
UVU opens the weekend with a pair of games at the USD Softball Complex on Friday, as it takes on Pittsburgh at 10 a.m. MT, and Illinois-Chicago at 12:30 p.m. MT. The Wolverines then head to San Diego State and the SDSU Softball Stadium on Saturday to face Boston University at 10 a.m. MT, and Saint Joseph's at 12:30 p.m. MT. Utah Valley then closes the Classic against No. 11 Texas A&M back at USD on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. MT.
Live stats will be available for all five games by visiting UVU's athletic website.
The Wolverines enter the weekend with a 4-12 overall record after dropping six games at the Bank of Hawaii Invitational last weekend in Honolulu. Four of the six contests were by one run, however, as UVU fell by scores of 4-3, 6-5 and 8-7 to Portland State and 4-3, 6-4 and 9-2 to the host Hawaii Rainbow Wahine.
During last Sunday's pair of games, Dynasty Lauvai's seventh-inning home run wasn't enough in the first game of the day against the Vikings, as UVU couldn't complete the comeback falling by a score of 4-3. Leading 4-2 in the fifth in the tournament finale against Hawaii, UH's Nicole Lopez blasted out a go-ahead three-run home run to put the Rainbow Wahine on top for good.
Brianna Gatlin led the Wolverines at the plate in Hawaii by hitting an even .400 (6-for-15) with three doubles, three RBIs, six runs scored, four walks and a home run. Lauvai was next by going 5-for-13 (.385) with a home run, an RBI and three runs scored. Gatlin, Morgan Smith, Taleigh Williams and Hawaii native Tiani Hensley were named to the Bank of Hawaii Invitational All-Tournament Team for UVU following the final game.
Jaymee Lawton leads Utah Valley on the season with a .360 batting average, while Hensley and Smith are right behind her with respective averages of .359 and .347. Brittney Vansway tops the team in the power numbers with three home runs, six doubles and 13 RBIs, and Kellee Ramsey fronts the pitching staff with a 2.83 ERA and a 1-3 record.
About the opposition
Pittsburgh enters Friday's opening game of the tournament with an 11-4 record after going a perfect 5-0 at the Stetson Invitational last weekend in DeLand, Florida. The Panthers defeated Colgate (7-4), Southern Illinois (8-0), Stetson (8-0) and Providence twice (13-0 and 11-4) last week. Pitt, which was picked to finish seventh in the ACC Preseason Poll this year, made the NCAA Tournament a year ago after going 37-22.
UIC enters the San Diego Classic with a 7-8 record after going 3-2 at the Santa Clara Invitational a week ago in Santa Clara, California. The Flames defeated the host Broncos (8-3) as well as UConn twice (7-0 and 3-2) at the tourney. UIC was picked to win the Horizon League title this year after going 24-22 last season.
Boston University comes to San Diego with a 3-6 record after finishing with a 2-3 clip at the FAU Invitational last weekend in Boca Raton, Florida. BU picked up wins over Columbia (5-1) and Stony Brook (4-0) and fell to Maryland (3-2), Michigan State (4-3) and Florida Atlantic (4-3). The Terriers were picked to finish fourth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll this year after going 17-27 a season ago.
Saint Joseph's holds a 4-6 overall record after going 3-2 at the JMU Dukes Invitational last weekend in Harrisonburg, Virginia. SJU defeated Toledo twice (11-0 and 8-2) as well as Robert Morris once (6-2). The Hawks were picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10 this season after going 23-18 in 2015.
The 11th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies moved up five spots in the national polls this week after going a perfect 5-0 at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station last weekend. The Aggies are 17-1 on the season with wins over four fellow nationally ranked foes in No. 7 UCLA (5-1), No. 9 Washington (11-6), No. 10 Arizona (8-4) and No. 16 UCF (10-4). Texas A&M's lone loss of the season was to No. 7 UCLA (5-1) at the Aggie Classic on Feb. 13, as it has won 14 straight ballgames. The Aggies were picked to finish ninth in the SEC this season after going 40-20 a year ago and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
This weekend's contests will mark the first all-time meeting for UVU against every opponent.
On deck for UVU
Following the conclusion of the San Diego Classic, UVU will return to Southern California on March 10-12, to compete at the Long Beach Louisville Slugger Invitational. There the Wolverines will face UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Iowa State and No. 13 UCLA.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.