By Will Compton
The Nevada softball team had plenty to celebrate about this weekend, as senior Megan Sweet grabbed herself 35 career home runs, the program record. Sweet played a crucial role in the Wolf Pack’s victory over UNLV in the three-game series.
Nevada opened up the series strong, crushing UNLV with a 6-0 shutout on Friday. Freshman Brooke Bollinger pitched a complete game shutout, along with six strikeouts and freshman Kwynn Warner batted a solid 4-for-5, with two runs and one RBI. Warner opened up the game with double to the left-center of the field. Once the Rebels silenced two of Nevada’s hitters, Jasmine Jenkins stepped up to the plate and ripped a double down the left field line and gave the Pack a 1-0 lead. Junior Melissa Arriaga stepped up to the plate and walked, and that led sophomore Aaliyah Gibson from third coming in for the score and made the lead 2-0.
Junior Raquel Martinez led-off the sixth with a walk, and Warner smacked an in-field single. Gibson found a seam in the right side that led Martinez to score and the Pack went up 3-0. Sophomore Jennifer Purcell made it a 5-0 game after screaming her 17th double of the season right down the right field line and cleared the bases.
Game two was where UNLV gained momentum. Despite a two-run rally in the top of the seventh, Nevada could not grab on, as the Pack fell to UNLV, 5-3, on Saturday. Nevada players still found their groove and made stellar plays.
Gibson went 3-for-4 with two runs while Sweet went 2-for-4 with two RBI doubles. Junior McKenna Isenberg only allowed two runs and struck out four Rebels. UNLV used the Pack’s quiet start going up 3-0 in the second. With two-outs and Gibson now on third, Purcell sent a perfect cut to the left center that cut the Nevada deficit, making the score 3-1. Wolf Pack errors lost the pack this game, as UNLV capitalized and made the lead 5-1 in the fourth. Nevada came out in its last chance with Martinez leading off the top of the seventh with a line drive right up the middle. Gibson smacked a single up the middle that gave Nevada runners on the corners. Sweet then stepped to the plate and made the score 5-3. UNLV would retire Nevada, and end the game.
UNLV came out with a frightening start in game three, taking a massive 7-1 lead. Sweet stepped to the plate and sent a hit to center field. A UNLV error gave Sweet a three-run home run and cut the Nevada deficit to 7-4. Jenkins followed Sweet’s home run with an infield single. Purcell was next batter and cranked the ball to the right field, bringing in two more runs, making UNLV’s lead 7-6 The Rebels responded with two runs in the third to extend their lead to 9-6.
Sophomore Amanda Nicholas and senior Hannah Harger made it a one-run game. Gibson hit a quick cut, and Geil and Martinez scored, giving the Pack its first lead since the second inning. Nevada tacked on two more singles from Sweet and Purcell, making it a 12-9 lead. The Rebels grabbed two runs in the bottom of the sixth that made it 12-11. Sweet came to the plate with a runner on in the top of seventh and hit her record-breaking home that made it 14-11. Isenberg ended the game with her fourth strikeout of the afternoon.
Nevada is now tied for second in the Mountain West standings with San Jose State, who comes to Reno this weekend for a three-game series.
Will Compton can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.