LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – After an exciting opening day of 2018, UNLV softball kept the momentum going with a split on Saturday at the Sportco Kick Off Classic. Despite falling to reigning Big Ten Champion and 16th-ranked Minnesota 3-0 in the first game, the Rebels still finished the day on a high note with a dominant performance in an 8-0 five-inning win over Utah Valley (0-3).
The Scarlet and Gray faced a tough task against the Gophers (4-0), but they were up to the challenge and battled until the final out. Although the Rebels suffered their first shutout this season, they did muster eight hits over seven innings, but couldn’t find the hit to break it open. Sophomore pitcher Breana Burke got the start in the circle and held her own. She gave up two solo home runs, but allowed just four other hits in a complete game performance.
UNLV (3-1) didn’t let the loss cloud its focus against Utah Valley as the Rebels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and extended their lead from there. For the second straight day it was sophomore Charlie Masterson who impressed the most, picking up her second win and first shutout of 2018. She didn’t just do it in the circle either. Her bases-loaded hit to the left field wall in the bottom of the fifth drove home the eighth run for the Rebels, which ended the game due to the run rule.
GAME 1: #16/18 Minnesota 3 UNLV 0
THE TURNING POINT: After Minnesota extended its lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth, the Rebels had runners on the corners with one out after Jaclyn Candelas an Myranda Bueno connected on back-to-back singles. Bueno advanced to second on a steal with two outs, but a pop out ended the inning and their best chance to score. UNLV had baserunners in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t bring any of them home.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Burke was facing a talented lineup and stayed steady, even when the Gophers got a pair of solo homers off the sophomore early. In all, she gave up just six hits with one strikeout and had four innings where she set down the Minnesota batters in order.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Rebels actually out-hit the Gophers 8-6 in the game, but couldn’t capitalize when they needed to.
GAME 2: UNLV 8 Utah Valley 0 (5)
THE TURNING POINT: The Rebels took control early and never looked back. Janine Petmecky drew a leadoff walk, which was followed by a Justine Federe single. After Mia Trejo was hit by the pitch to load the bases, Petmecky scored from third on a wild pitch for the first run. A few moments later, Myranda Bueno sent a single to second base, allowing Federe to score before Trejo was thrown out at the plate. UNLV added two more runs in the third, one in the fourth and then three in the fifth to end the game.
REBEL OF THE GAME: Masterson is off to a hot start in her second collegiate season. She pitched 5.0 innings and allowed just four hits while striking out three. She also went 2-for-3 from the plate with one walk and two RBI – including the game-winner. At 2-0, she has pitched 14.0 innings and given up just one earned run on nine hits – good for a 0.64 ERA.
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV collected 11 hits in just five innings a night after getting 10 in the first four in the win against Creighton.
QUOTABLE: Head coach Kristie Fox:
On the loss to Minnesota:
“I think Bre (Burke) did a good job out there and she battled and kept competing. It came down to timely hitting, they came up with the timely hits and we had lots of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of offensively.”
On bouncing back with a good performance against Utah Valley:
“I was really glad to see the team make adjustments in game two and learn from mistakes we made in game one. We talked about two-out RBIs and making the defense work and we did that in the second game. I think it’s real sign of maturity to keep their heads on straight and come back like that after a loss.”
On what she’s seen from her team the first two days:
“This team is a scrappy bunch. The pitching staff is doing a really good job competing on the mound. As a team, they’ve had good energy and they are excited and having fun playing softball. They are focused and they’ve bought in and that’s huge for our future.”
* This is the fourth-straight year the Rebels have started the season 3-1.
* Sophomore Charlie Masterson has almost as many strikeouts as hits allowed in 14 innings pitched (seven strikeouts to nine hits)
* Myranda Bueno and Justine Federe are leading the way offensively so far, hitting at a .455 and .357 clip, respectively, with five hits a piece through four games
* This is the 11th straight year UNLV has hosted the Sportco Kick Off Classic to open the season
UP NEXT FOR THE REBELS: UNLV will wrap up the weekend with a Sunday matinee matchup against Southern Utah at 1:30 p.m. at Eller Media Stadium. The Rebels beat the Thunderbirds twice a year ago.