ARLINGTON, Texas -- Defense continued to shine and the bats came alive to help UTA softball sweep a Tuesday at Allan Saxe Field in an exhibition doubleheader against Vernon College.
The Mavs used a strong start from Michal Hylton in Game 1 to take the opener 4-2, while JoJo Valencia opened the finale and pitched 7.0 innings as UTA won the finale 14-1. While the offensive outburst in Game 2 proved impressive, it was a much improved defensive side of the ball that did not account for an error on the day, while Vernon accounted for six, all but one leading to Maverick runs.
"I am proud of how they played today," UTA coach Peejay Brun said. "We have been working really hard on getting the little things right. We had a lot of errors at the beginning of fall. They are a lot more focused right now and are playing great defense and the bats are starting to come alive."
That defense backed up the performances by Hylton and Valencia. Hylton tossed six innings in the opener, striking out seven, while only issuing two walks and being on the hook for two runs that came in the sixth. Valencia threw the final frame, allowing just a walk. In Game 2, Valencia went all seven, striking out two, allowing just three hits and an earned run.
"The pitchers are doing a great job just staying with the game plan that coach Morgan has put forward for them," Brun said. "Sometime we struggle with our spots, but they are doing a good job keeping it together on the mound and not let the little things get to them. They are doing a great job and they know we aren't up there to strike the batters out, we just let the defense play because they have a great defense behind them."
At the plate, it was the Sandra Mendoza show. Mendoza had a team-high five hits overall, accounting for two runs. Mendoza's leadoff triple in Game 2 produced the opening run of the game, and she would reach third once again in her next at-bat, but was unable to cross the plate.
Four other Mavericks joined Mendoza with multi-hit games in the finale. Avery Grimes, Laura Curry and Kloe Corbin each had two hits. Corbin would join Brittany Wyllie with homerun shots that both cleared the left-field wall.
The sweep moved UTA to 5-0 in fall exhibition play with one game on the slate remaining on Saturday against Tarleton State at 12 p.m. Admission is free for the fall finale.
"Right now there is a little bit of miscommunication on the base running and coaching side of things," Brun said of improvements before closing out the slate. "We are going to work on getting our verbal cues down just a little bit because we had a few mistakes. We are very aggressive on the base running side so we want to fix those things before Saturday."
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