UNLV softball rallied together to sweep the San Diego Toreros over the weekend, winning three straight games.
Game One, March 25
The UNLV softball team withstood a late-inning rally by the University of San Diego to secure a 7-4 win in the opening game of the three-game weekend series.
The 7-8-9 lineup combination of Samantha Diaz, Lauryn Barker and Alyssa Trejo for the Rebels were responsible for driving in all seven runs scored on the evening.
Diaz took game-MVP honors by going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a pair of RBI.
Hot-corner specialist Barker connected on her second home run of the season with a two-run shot to dead-center that cemented a 7-4 lead for UNLV.
Jenny Bressler (11-4) spun four dominant innings from the pitching stripe allowing a lone run to score to earn the victory.
Alanna Thiede retired nine-of-ten batters she faced across the final three innings to earn her first save of the season.
The Rebels (22-6) return to the diamond for the second meeting of the series against the Toreros Saturday at 3 pm at Eller Media Stadium.
Game Two, March 26
UNLV took the second game against San Diego by a final score of 7-1.
With the win Saturday, the Rebels (23-6) established yet another winning streak, the fifth time this season they’ve managed to string together at least three consecutive victories.
As part of the pregame ceremony, UNLV paid tribute to the memory of the late Vern Stephens, a beloved youth coach and prominent member of the Las Vegas softball community.
Stephens, who passed away in February 2021 after battling pancreatic cancer, was a central figure in the lives of several softball stars that have found their way to UNLV, including pitcher/outfielder Jasmine Martin and head coach Kristie Fox.
“Vern was one of my biggest supporters when I took over the job [five years ago],” Coach Fox said. “He really conveyed to me the talent in Vegas and the potential for what we could build here.”
“We miss Vern a lot, and it was really important for his daughter to come out here and be a part of our game today.”
Stephens’ daughter, Kayla Stephens, accepted the distinguished honor of throwing the game’s ceremonial first pitch, caught behind the plate by none other than Martin, a former player on the late Stephens’ travel softball team.
Martin then paid homage to her former mentor in a manner that would make any coach proud.
In her first plate appearance, leading off the bottom of the second, Martin broke a scoreless tie by blasting a solo home run to deep left field. The tie score, however, is not the only thing she would break with that hit.
Martin’s line drive home run was hit so mercilessly hard, that it ricocheted off the Rebels’ scoreboard with a thunderous bang and damaged the LED panel that marks visitors’ runs for their half of the fifth inning.
“I didn’t mean to [break the scoreboard],” Martin said as she laughed and reflected on her impact on the scoreboard, both figuratively and literally. “It feels nice to finally let loose on one. I’m happy with the adjustments I made at the plate. I did it for my team. It feels good to be able to help them out.”
Martin’s offensive day did not end there.
Nursing a 2-0 lead in the third inning, Martin entered the box with a runner on second and drilled yet another home run to left field, gracefully sparing the scoreboard from further violence this time around.
Martin’s three RBI led the Rebels on the afternoon.
That would more than suffice the run-support Bressler would require.
Bressler (12-4) tossed all seven innings allowing just one run, her fifth complete game of the season. Bressler punched out a season-high 10 batters en route to her 12th victory, accounting for slightly more than half of the team’s total victories at this point of the season.
Shortstop Diaz matched Martin’s two home runs with a pair of round trippers of her own to help the Rebels to a 7-1 final score.
Game Three, March 27
UNLV swept its three-game series against the University of San Diego after defeating the Toreros in the Sunday finale 6-3.
The Rebels (24-6, 2-1 MW) have now won four straight and 10 of their past 12 games.
UNLV’s lineup used a combination of plate discipline and timely hitting to manufacture the victory, scoring five runs in the first two innings utilizing only one hit.
Six different starters worked a walk, with the team totaling nine free passes tying a season-high.
“When you get a scout on a pitcher, it makes it a little easier for you to have a good approach,” Fox said. “I think our batters early in the game did a good job of sticking with the game plan.”
Mia Trejo (.432, 35 RBI) put the Rebels ahead 1-0 in the first with a sacrifice fly that scored leadoff hitter Maddie Schmidt.
Trejo then extended UNLV’s early lead to 5-0 in the second inning with a bases-clearing two-RBI hit to right field. A San Diego error on the play helped plate a third run for the Rebels.
“That’s all it takes sometimes is a good, timely hit,” Fox said. “Mia’s two-out, three-run at-bat was a huge game-changer.”
Trejo added to her lofty totals and provided an insurance run for UNLV with a solo home run that clanged high off the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth.
Trejo led UNLV with four RBI in the contest.
“I’m happy I was able to help my team today,” Trejo said. “Especially the last couple of weeks, we’ve been a little slow [scoring early]. We’re not coming out as hot as we were at the beginning of the year. It’s okay, it happens. So, I was really happy to help my team out today.”
Thiede (6-1) pitched into the fourth inning, allowing two runs and striking out four to earn the win. The California southpaw kept the Toreros in check for three innings before running into trouble in the fourth.
After a walk loaded the bases for USD with only one out and a 5-2 ballgame, Bressler entered the game in a high-leverage situation needing to extinguish the Torero rally.
Bressler proceeded to strike out the next two batters she faced to escape the jam and preserve the lead. USD would not mount a threat beyond that.
Bressler limited the Toreros to two hits and one run across the final three innings to pick up her fourth save of the season and the tenth of her career, one away from tying the all-time UNLV lead.
“Jenny did a great job attacking them and taking advantage of their weak spots,” Fox said. “Those two strikeouts were huge just to shut down their momentum for the rest of the game.”
Next up for the Rebels is a pivotal three-game away series against Mountain West-power Boise State (27-5, 6-0 MW).
“Boise is not an easy place to play,” Fox said. “We really have to focus on making sure that we play our game and not change based on the location and their team.”
First game of the series is scheduled for April 1 at 3 p.m.