UTA softball sweeps Appalachian State University in the first two games of the series

The softball team huddles between innings during a game against Troy University on March 14 at Allan Saxe Field.

The softball team (16-28, 9-10) swept Sun Belt Conference foe Appalachian State University in a doubleheader Saturday at Allan Saxe Field.

The first game of the doubleheader was the softball team's Strike Out Cancer game, where they brought awareness to breast cancer and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

With the forecast predicting inclement weather, the first game, which had been scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., was pushed up to a 12:30 p.m. start time.

Game 1: UTA 2, Appalachian State 0

Senior pitcher JoJo Valencia was called upon to start the game for the Mavericks and helped lead the team in the 2-0 series opening victory.

Junior infielder Kimber Cortemelia started the scoring on the day, driving in two runs on a short hit to center field in the bottom of the second.

At first glance, it appeared the ball was caught by Appalachian State outfielder Mary Pierce Barnes after diving to catch the ball, but as she hit the ground, the ball popped out, allowing the Mavericks runners to score and to take a 2-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, sophomore outfielder Jadyn Erickson left the game after slamming into a wall on the third base line while chasing a foul ball. Erickson had to be helped off the field, and freshman outfielder Reese Scott came in to replace her.

“We were worried that she fractured her patella,” head coach Peejay Brun said. “The x-rays came out good, so she has an injury in there, but I think, you know, a couple days rest, and the trainer thinks we’ll be able to get her on her feet.”

In the same inning, the Mountaineers had a chance to score with two outs, two runners on and one in scoring position, but a flyout helped the Mavericks escape the inning.

Valencia’s day ended after pitching five shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out two batters. Her performance helped her earn her fourth win of the season.

Junior pitcher Allie Gardiner came in relief of Valencia in the sixth inning and pitched two shutout innings to end the game. She earned her fourth save of the season.

Game 2: UTA 6, Appalachian State 0

After two scoreless innings to start the game, the Mavericks ended the deadlock with a two-run third inning.

Scott fueled the third inning rally after being hit by a pitch and stealing second base.

Freshman infielder Jessica Carreon followed that up by sending a ball down the left field line that sent Scott racing home for the first run of the game.

Senior infielder KJ Murphy followed Carreon’s RBI double with a single up the middle, driving in Carreon and padding the Mavericks’ lead to 2-0.

After hitting ground balls all day, Murphy said she told herself to get the ball off the ground. In the fifth inning with two runners on, she made contact, and the ball flew to the outfield.

“I honestly thought I popped it straight up,” Murphy said. “As soon as I rounded first, I threw my hands straight up in the air because I had no idea that it was going over.”

Murphy’s ball didn’t look like a home run, but it carried and cleared the right-center field fence. The home run was her sixth of the season and was the offensive exclamation point in a 6-0 victory.

She finished 3-3 at the plate and drove in four runs.

Sophomore pitcher Kenedy Hines’ performance in the pitcher’s circle didn’t go unnoticed. She finished a complete game seven-inning shutout, surrendering three hits to the Mountaineers.

Brun said she was impressed by both pitching performances from Valencia and Hines. She said they came out ready to pitch and did a good job holding the Mountaineers to no runs on the day.

After Tuesday’s game against Baylor University was canceled, it allowed the team to rejuvenate prior to the weekend matchup, Murphy said.

“Usually we’re just going, going, going,” she said. “We had a hard practice on Wednesday to replace that game, to keep us in it. That way we’re not getting too relaxed.”

The Mavericks will look to sweep the Mountaineers in game three at noon Sunday at Allan Saxe Field.

@sportsestrada

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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