LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV Softball picked up its first Mountain West Conference series victory of 2017 last weekend as they took two of three from the Rams in Fort Collins. It was a great series win for UNLV, especially with CSU having won six of their last nine heading into the weekend. The Rebels are now 23-20 on the season and 6-9 in league play. It's the best record through 43 games under head coach Lisa Dodd and is the best mark at this point in the year since the 2011 team went 25-18. With three weeks left to play in the regular season, the Rebels have just two more home series, starting this weekend with defending champion Fresno State coming to town for a three-game set at Eller Media Stadium, April 28-30.
The series win over the Rams wasn't without some drama and big hits. In the opening game, UNLV took a 6-0 lead through two innings, but had to hold off a furious CSU comeback to hang on to a run-one 7-6 win. The Rebels built the early lead thanks to a grand slam by first baseman Alyssa Navarro in the first inning. Navarro finished with a season-high five RBI in the game to provide the majority of the offense. Freshman Breana Burke did the rest of the work in the circle, giving up three runs in 5.0 innings pitched while holding the Rams scoreless over the final two innings to secure the win. It was the Rebels' first victory in a Mountain West series opener this season. Game two's win took a comeback effort from UNLV after getting down 4-0 after two innings. The Rebels chipped away at the lead, scoring one in the third and three in the fourth to even the score at four. In the sixth inning, they were able to take advantage of a hit by pitch, a walk and three hits to score three runs and take the lead for good in a 7-4 win.
Fresno State enters the weekend having lost its last three Mountain West series. The Bulldogs have also struggled away from Fresno, sporting a 3-6 record in true road games this season, including 2-3 in league games. FS took two of three in Fresno last season, so the Rebels will try at least do the same in the 2017 series at home this weekend, April 28-30. Friday's series opener will get underway at 6 p.m. with Saturday's first pitch set for 4 p.m. and Sunday's finale scheduled for 12 p.m. It will also be fun couple of days at Eller Media with Little League Night on Friday and Bark in the Park on Saturday.
NEWS & NOTES
23-20 is the best record under Lisa Dodd through 43 games in her five years at the helm and is also the first time the team has been over .500 at this point in the season. This is also the team's best record through 43 games since they went 25-18 in the same span in 2011.
A Weekend of Firsts: The Rebels picked up a couple of firsts last weekend at Colorado State. Friday's 7-6 win was their first in a Mountain West series opener in 2017, while Saturday's 7-4 victory sealed their first conference series victory of the year.
Season Streaks: The Rebels have two separate four-game win streaks this season. Prior to their conference-opening series at Utah State March 17-19, the Rebels hadn't lost more than two in a row during their non-conference schedule. They have not lost more than three in a row all season long. After a stretch that saw them lose four of six, the Rebels have won three of their last five and will have their eye on winning a second staight conference series this weekend at home against Fresno State.
Individual Streaks: Senior transfer Brianna Gatlin had a 17-game on-base streak to start the year while Janine Petmecky's 16-game on-base streak ended in Corvallis April 1 &2 - marking the two-longest such streaks of the season for the Rebels. Petmecky and Gatlin have each had seven game hitting streaks at different points this season.
Success on Saturday: Saturdays have been a good day for the Rebel as they own a 9-5 record overall on that day - their best of any day of the week. They also have yet to lose on a Saturday in conference play.
Sunday Scaries: On the flip side, Sundays haven't been kind to the Rebels in 2017 as it is the only day they currently have a losing record (2-8) in 2017 and have yet to win a conference game in a weekend finale.
Home Field Charm: Eller Media Stadium has been kind to the Rebels as they hold a 13-8 record at home this season, including all four of their shutouts. They are just 5-8 in true road games this year.
Ettinger sets new career-highs: After setting a new career-high for wins with her 11th on the season in a 4-0 midweek game against Creighton on March 7, Ettinger picked up her 12th win on March 11 to reset her personal record with a 1-0 decision over New Mexico State at the Rebel Classic. Her 89 strikeouts and 12 complete games are also new career highs, breaking her old top mark of 54 and nine, respectively. Currently, she is tied for sixth in the conference in wins, is fourth in strikeouts, tied for fourth in batters struck out looking (27) and is 11th with a 3.15 ERA.
Petmecky a RBI machine: Petmecky has been clutch with runners in scoring position this year, leading the team with 26 RBI on the season, including two different three-RBI games and three other two RBI games. Dodd has not been afraid to send her in as a pinch hitter with runners in scoring position and more often than not, she delivers.
Fast Starts: The Rebels have scored at least one run in the first inning in 18 out of 43 games this season, with multi-run first innings against Louisville (4), Southern Utah (3), Northern Iowa (3), Creighton (2), Dixie State (2), both games against Portland State (6, 3), the series finale against Utah State (6), the game two win against Boise State (2) and the series opening win at CSU (4). The first inning is also their highest scoring inning overall, with 43 runs total in the opening frame. They are currently 14-4 when they do manage to score in the first inning. On the flip side, they are 9-11 when their opponent scores in the first inning. The team has also scored the most runs in the first and second innings combined this year (62), proving the fast starts are crucial for the Rebels. Scoring first has also been key for the Rebels as they are 15-3 when they strike first and are just 8-17 when they allow opponents to get on the board before they do.
While Coach Dodd would likely prefer to win by larger margins, the Rebels have proved they can win the close ones as they are 8-3 in one-run games.
Comeback Magic: Over a seven-game stretch, the Rebels pulled off five come-from-behind wins, with the efforts including a walk-off home run by Janine Petmecky at home against Weber State on Feb. 17 and two late-inning home runs that proved to be the game winners -- one by Justine Federe on Feb. 24 at Hawaii and another by Alyssa Navarro against Montana in Honolulu on Feb. 25. They've added three more comeback wins in April - an 8-4 victory over Boise State on April 8 at home, a 12-7 comeback win at Nevada, Reno on Friday, April 14 and a 7-4 victory over Colorado State on April 22.
Fourth-Inning says it all: So far, if the Scarlet & Gray can find themselves ahead or tied on the scoreboard after four innings, there's a good chance they will go on to win the game. Currently, they are 21-2 when they accomplish that feat. On the other hand, they are just 2-18 when trailing after four innings.
On Thursday, Feb. 16, Dodd picked up her 100th career win in a 8-7 win over Northern Iowa at home. All of her career head coaching wins have come at UNLV, while she became the fourth coach in program history to reach the 100 win mark.
Janine Petmecky's walk-off home run against Weber State on Friday, Feb. 17 was the first for UNLV since former Rebel Garie Blando hit on in a 6-5 victory over Mountain West foe New Mexico on March 27, 2015.
Senior transfer Brianna Gatlin has made a significant impact in her first and only season as a Rebel. She has reached based safely in 35 of 43 games - a team-high this season. She recorded a seven-game hitting streak - tied for longest of the season - during the first 14 games of the season and safely reached base in the first 17-straight games -- the longest on-base streak of any Rebel this season. She leads the team in several offensive categories including batting average (.352), hits (45), runs scored (27), doubles (12) and triples (2) while she is second in RBI (22) and home runs. She ranks tied for second in doubles, 13th in on-based percentage (.443), 14th in hits and tied for 14th in runs scored in the Mountain West.
In addition to Gatlin, two other transfers, sophomore Kiley Harrison and junior Alyssa Navarro, have been strong additions. Harrison has made 38 starts, the majority at catcher, while Navarro has started 42 of 43 games as the regular first baseman. The two have combined for 53 hits, 23 runs scored and 34 RBI. Navarro also leads the team with five home runs and most recently recorded a five RBI game in a 7-6 win at Colorado State - a single-game team-high this year.
The freshmen also continue to make their mark this year. Mara Kemmer and more recently Reina Bondi have led the way. Kemmer has spent time in both right field, at designated player and in the circle as a dual threat player for the Rebels. In her first year, Kemmer is third on the team with a .327 batting average and is second in hits (33), fifth in RBI (12) and third in runs scored (17). She's also made 15 appearances in the circle with five starts. After losing her first decision, she won three starts in a row. She currently has an overall ERA of 4.24 and 21 strikeouts. She picked up her first career collegiate win on Saturday, March 4 against Utah Valley, going 4.0 innings and giving up just two runs. Bondi has made 13 starts over the last 22 games and has become a stolen base specialist as she has gone 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts. Justine Federehas also seen significant time in her first year, starting 25 of the 31 games she has played in, looking particularly comfortable at the plate, hitting .301 on the season with 22 hits, five doubles, eight runs scored and 10 RBI.
Petmecky, fellow junior Jade Yadao-Valdez and sophomoreMyranda Bueno have led the way among position player returners. During March, Petmecky went 20-of-55 (.363), with four doubles, seven runs scored and eight RBI, while Bueno is fourth on the team in batting average (.317), third in hits (32), second in runs scored (19) and tied for sixth in RBI (10) while starting 38 games in centerfield. Yadao-Valdez has also been one of the most consistent players on the team, hitting .296 with 29 hits, 16 runs and seven RBI while owning the hot corner on third base.
SCOUTING FRESNO STATE The Bulldogs are currently fifth in the Mountain West - one spot ahead of the Rebels - at 26-20 overall and 6-8 in Mountain West play. FS has dropped their last three MW series to Nevada, Utah State and San Jose State and is just 3-6 in true road games this season, including 2-3 in conference play. Sophomore Morgan Howe has led the team with a .465 batting average and .549 on-base percentage in Mountain West play, while senior Kierra Willis has hit .378 with a .549 on-base percentage and has accumulated 14 walks in the 14 games. Willis' 49 career walks in MW games ranks second-best in MW history. Over her last six appearances, sophomore pitcher Kamalani Dung has given up just 10 runs and 25 hits over 40 innings pitched for a 1.75 ERA, but has gone 2-4 as the team has averaged just 2.5 runs per game over that span. Dung currently leads the MW in shutouts (6) and ranks second in wins (17) and strikeouts (153). The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 55-15.