UNLV moves to 10-3 this season after sweeping Friday’s doubleheader on the opening day of the Houston Invitational
UNLV 3 Syracuse 0 | UNLV 6 UTSA 5 | Houston Invitational Tournament Central | @UNLVSoftball
HOUSTON, Texas (UNLVRebels.com) – Another Friday another late-inning comeback by UNLV softball as the Rebels have developed a flair for the dramatics early in the season. For the third straight week, the Scarlet and Gray used come-from-behind rallies in the seventh inning or later to pick up victories on the opening day of the weekend and sweep its doubleheaders.
UNLV began the day with a 3-0 shutout – its third of the season – against Syracuse, then came back twice against UTSA, capped by a two-run go-ahead home run by second baseman Justine Federe in the top of the seventh.
Now 10-3 on the season, the Rebels have gotten off to their best start since they went 10-2-1 in 2008. This also marks just the sixth time in program history they have started 10-3 or better to begin the year.
Senior Janine Petmecky was stellar in the opening game against Syracuse, out-dueling the Orange’s ace Alexa Romero who was coming off a perfect game performance in her last outing, with seven shutout innings. The right-hander also accounted for two of the three Rebel hits in the game, with her fourth-inning double scoring Jade Yadao-Valdez from second to break a scoreless tie and end a streak of 9.2 hit-less innings by Romero. It was Petmecky’s fourth win and second shutout of the season.
The sophomore duo of Federe and outfielder Reina Bondi sparked two different Rebel comebacks during game two against UTSA. With UNLV down 3-0 in the third, Bondi sent a double to left field to put runners on second and third. Federe then knocked a single down the left field line to score both runs and bring the Rebels within one. Freshman Samantha Diaz – the reigning Mountain West Player of the Week – brought Federe home with a single and it was 3-3 through three innings. In the top of the seventh, it was Bondi again coming through with a hit, this one to knot the score at four with UTSA needing just one out to seal the game. That brought up Federe again, whose two-run home run completed a four-RBI game for the second baseman and lifted the Rebels to the win.
GAME 1: UNLV 3 Syracuse 0
THE TURNING POINT: Syracuse pitcher Alexa Moreno seemed to be cruising along as she retired the UNLV batters in order for three straight innings. That changed in the fourth when the Rebels finally got a baserunner after Yadao-Valdez drew a walk. Yadao-Valdez then swiped second to get in scoring position. With two outs, Petmecky stepped to the plate and sent a double down the right field line to score Yadao-Valdez for the 1-0 lead and first hit off of Moreno in over nine innings.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Petmecky willed UNLV to victory with her performance in the circle and at the plate. The senior allowed just three hits in seven complete innings while striking out seven, bringing her team-leading total to 28 on the year. When Romero seemed untouchable early in the game, Petmecky turned on a two-out pitch and kept it inside the right field line to give the Rebels the lead for good. In the game, Petmecky accounted for two of the three UNLV hits with her sixth-inning single putting two on to help set up a bases-loaded double by freshman first baseman Mia Trejo two batters later.
STAT OF THE GAME: Two of the Rebels’ three hits were RBI doubles, with Petmecky’s scoring one in the fourth and Trejo’s sixth-inning bases-loaded hit scoring two to make it 3-0 and provide the game’s final margin.
GAME 2: UNLV 6 UTSA 5
THE TURNING POINT: Trailing 4-3 with one more chance to rally, freshman Jaclyn Candelas led off the inning with a single to center, then stole second with one out. After Alyssa Navarro flied out, Bondi was at the plate and was down to her last strike when she sent a single to right field that scored Candelas from second and tied the game up at four. That brought up Federe, who sent a laser over the left field wall to cap a three-run top of the seventh. The Roadrunners had one more chance to respond, however. With runners on second and third and two outs, Petmecky came in to pitch for the save attempt and the teammate she relieved – Breana Burke – went to right field. The batter knocked a single past Trejo at first base into right field that was picked up by Burke, who launched it towards catcher Brooke Stover at home plate after UTSA decided to send its second baserunner towards home on the play. Burke’s throw beat the runner and Stover got the tag down for the third out and the win.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Federe had a monster game at the plate. The sophomore went 2-of-3 with two runs scored, one walk and four RBI – giving her a total of 12 on the year, which leads all Rebels.
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV went 4-of-6 with runners in scoring position against the Roadrunners – a few days after going 2-for-10 in the loss to Hawaii Monday.
QUOTABLE: Head coach Kristie Fox:
On the late-innings comebacks this season:
“I think they’ve done a really good job of never making any moment too big, which is something we always talk about. They’ve been sticking with the process and chugging away and not making any play too big, so I’ve been really impressed with their maturity when it comes to that.”
On how the team has gotten off to 10-3 early in the season:
“I’m really glad to see the way they’ve been battling and buying in to what we are trying to build here. Today was special because it was somebody different stepping up each time we needed a play and that’s what we talk about, always being ready to step up when we need it and I saw that today from everyone – the pitching staff, the defense and our hitters.”
*Now 10-3 on the season, the Rebels have gotten off to their best start since they went 10-2-1 in 2008. This also marks the sixth time in program history they have started 10-3 or better to begin the year.
* UNLV has three shutouts on the season, with Petmecky responsible for two of them
* Burke picked up her third win of the season against UTSA, while Petmecky registered her first save of 2018
* Through the first 12 games, UNLV has committed just seven errors, while its opponents have committed 18. The Rebels have committed zero errors in seven games this season and have just one game where they committed more than one.
* Myranda Bueno had to leave the game against Syracuse after getting hit in the face by a pitch
UP NEXT FOR THE REBELS: UNLV will have another doubleheader Saturday, taking on Yale in the first game at 2 p.m. CT/12 p.m. PT and tournament host Houston at 7 p.m. CT/5 p.m. PT.