OREM, Utah — After a making just a brief appearance in Orem for its season home opener, the Utah Valley University softball team is back on the road. Its first stop is a three-game series in Fayetteville against the University of Arkansas. The series gets underway Friday at 5 p.m. MT.
UVU (5-6) will be playing its first games against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference in program history.
"Arkansas was an NCAA regional qualifier last season and they really smoked the competition at the Red Desert Classic to start the year," UVU head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "We know that they can hit the ball well and that they have better pitching than we've seen this season. We'll have our work cut out for us with an SEC team on tap, but this is the kind of series that is a perfect test to get us ready for our upcoming conference schedule."
The Razorbacks (16-6) are winners of eight of their last ten contests, including a championship run at its own Woo Pig Classic last weekend. Arkansas went 4-1 at the Classic beating Northern Iowa twice, topping Wright State and splitting with Jacksonville State.
Sophomore utility Devon Wallace earned SEC Player of the Week honors for her performance at the Classic. She went 7-for-11 in five games with three home runs, three doubles and seven RBIs despite being walked eight times. Last year's SEC freshman of the year, Wallace leads the team with seven home runs and is second in batting average (.491).
The Razorback pitching staff has seen four players make starts in the circle, led by senior Chelsea Cohen's 7-2 record in 52.1 innings pitched. She also tops the staff in strikeouts with 71.
Opening the season alongside UVU at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, Arkansas went a perfect 5-0 with wins over 2013 Wolverine opponents Southern Utah, Loyola Marymount, Weber State and Utah.
The Utes visited Orem on Tuesday for the UVU home opener. In a 10-inning pitcher's duel, the Wolverines ended up on the wrong side of a 4-2 decision. Neither side scored a run until the seventh frame as UVU pitcher Tiffany Mills allowed just two earned runs through 9.0 innings pitched.
Freshman second baseman Dynasty Lauvai had the lone RBI in the game for UVU, driving in the tying run with a double in the do-or-die bottom of the seventh.
Following the weekend series, UVU will remain down South for its next eight games. The Wolverines will take part in the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla., playing eight games in five days. Last year at the Spring Games, UVU went 7-1.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company