The Grand Canyon University softball team picked up a pair of wins Friday in the opening day of its invitational at Stapleton-Pierson Stadium. The Antelopes capped off day one of the tournament with a thrilling one-run win over Nevada, who had previously only been beaten twice in 2014. In GCU's first contest of the day, the 'Lopes used 15 hits to pick up the 9-4 win over Southern Utah. Grand Canyon advanced their record to 6-7 on the season with the two wins on Friday.
Grand Canyon jumped out to an early 4-0 lead against the Thunderbirds and never looked back, as Kelsey Barak drilled a bases-clearing double to right center in the top of the second frame to give the 'Lopes a 4-0 lead.
Kayla Henry and Haley Walker each picked up an RBI in the third to further the Canyon lead to 6-2. The 'Lopes pushed across another run in the fourth when Lauren Regester scored after doubling earlier in the inning.
GCU crossed the plate once in both the sixth and seventh to tally the 9-4 victory over Southern Utah.
Taylor Nowlin picked up her first collegiate win in the circle, tossing five innings and giving up four earned runs. Stephanie Pesqueira hurled the final two innings for GCU, not allowing a hit or a T'bird run.
Claire Zampini and Barak both finished the affair with three hits in four attempts and Nicole Newbury, Stephanie Smith, and Henry all had a pair of hits in the winning effort.
"Kelsey had a huge hit, that's what really got us going offensively," said head coach Ann Pierson. "We strung together a lot of hits and did a good job of putting pressure on the (Southern Utah) defense."
Trailing 6-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh, GCU used a late-inning rally to down the visiting Wolf Pack.
Lauren Regester started off the bottom of the seventh with a single to center field. Newbury, who was the next batter, laid down a beautiful bunt and advanced to second on a throwing error. The errant throw allowed pinch runner Jenna Coates to get to third base with no outs. With two outs, Zampini hit a laser that bounced off the shortstop's glove, scoring Coates. Henry stepped into the box and drove a single back up the middle, pushing Newbury across for the game-winning run.
GCU used three consecutive infield singles in the fourth to score three runs and knot the game at five.
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