The first session of the 2017 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge concluded Saturday with three competitive games and then a trip to the heart of the city, where teams and fans enjoyed a stellar meal at the beachside haven of the La Palapas restaurant.
It marked a welcomed chance to ease off the throttle, given the quality of the teams starting their season at the event. Preseason No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Auburn, No. 13 Washington along with BYU and Nebraska took their swings, with both Auburn and Washington winning three of their four games at Nancy Almaraz Stadium.
Details on the teams already booked to attend the 2018 event will be released later this year. Here’s a look at the 2017 All-Tournament team, selected by coaches and media partners:
Auburn: Kaylee Carlson, Makayla Martin, Kendall Veach, Carlee Wallace
BYU: Lauren Bell, McKenna Bull, Rylee Jensen, Libby Sugg
Nebraska: Austen Urness
Oklahoma: Paige Lowary, Nicole Pendley
Washington: Ali Aguilar, Trysten Melhart, Taylor Van Zee
Tournament MVP: Taran Alvelo, pitcher, Washington
The Washington Huskies (3-1) opened the 2017 season in impressive fashion by first knocking off No. 2 Auburn on Friday, 2-1, and now No. 1 Oklahoma, 1-0, in what was the final session #1 game of the PV College Challenge.
Washington’s Taylor Van Zee hit a bomb off of Paige Parker over the right-field fence giving Washington a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning in what was the only run scored in the game.
Tarn Alvelo threw all seven innings for the Huskies giving up five hits and recording two strikeouts. Parker started the game for Oklahoma throwing three innings before Paige Lowary entered.
Impressive defensive plays was the storyline for both teams, highlighted by a diving catch by Washington’s Trysten Melhart at the right-field fence stealing a potential home run away from OU’s Caleigh Clifton.
In the bottom of the 6th, with runners on 1st and 2nd, Washington’s Kirstyn Thomas hit a hard shot to right-center that was snagged at the fence by OU’s Nicole Pendley. Pendley then threw it to short stop Arnold Kelsey who threw a dart to home tagging out Husky runner Melhart at the plate.
Oklahoma falls to 2-2 on the season with wins over BYU and Nebraska in the PV College Challenge and loses to Auburn and Washington.
After falling behind 3-0, Washington scored seven consecutive runs and then held off Nebraska’s final rally to win the penultimate game at the first session of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
Taran Alvelo settled down after that rough first inning and notched her second win of the event for Washington (2-1). Nebraska used a single and an error in the seventh to score twice, but Washington got two gems of a play on the final at-bat, as shortstop Ali Aguilar fielded a tough grounder and first baseman Julia DePonte dug up the low throw.
Alyvia Simmons and Haley Donaldson each had RBI hits for Nebraska (0-4) in the first inning, and another run came across when a throw to second base went awry.
Washington came back in its half of the first, with DePonte blasting a two-run homer – that was followed by a run-scoring triple from Nicole Bates and an RBI double from Morganne Flores. In the third Inning, Kelly Burdick drove in a run with an infield hit, and Aguilar drove in one more with a sacrifice fly. Bates added a useful run for UW in the sixth with her own sacrifice fly.
No. 2 Auburn wrapped up an excellent trip at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge with a five-hit shutout of BYU authored by sophomore starter Makayla Martin.
The Tigers (3-1) only needed one productive inning on offense, and they got it in the bottom of the fourth inning. KK Crocker drove in the first run with a one-out single, and Carlee Wallace came through with a two-run, two-out single for the final runs of the game.
Auburn pulled off the win despite getting just three hits off BYU starter Arissa Paulson, and the Tigers also made two errors in the infield.
The Cougars (2-2) looked ready for a comeback in the top of the seventh as Caitlyn Alldredge double to right field to start the inning. After a groundout, Allie Hancock reached on an error, and Rylee Jensen came up with runners on first and third with two outs. She smoked a grounder to Auburn All-American Kasey Cooper, who made a terrific grab and strong throw for the final out.
BYU scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to move ahead of No. 13 Washington, and Cougars starting pitcher McKenna Bull finished the deal in Friday’s final game of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
BYU (2-1) got a well-hit double by Caitlyn Alldredge with two outs in the sixth that drove home Emilee Erickson and Alexa Strid, and then added an insurance run on a single from Brielle Breland. Bull took the lead into the seventh and registered one out before Trysten Melhart singled and stole second. But the Huskies (1-1) got no further as both Taylor Van Zee and Ali Aguilar flied out.
The Cougars opened the scoring in the first as Ashley Thompson scored after a throw to second base rolled into the outfield. Washington tied it up in the fourth on an RBI single from Julia DePonte.
The Huskies took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a home run from Casey Stangal, whose drive to centerfield hit the BYU feather banner posted behind the fence.
Auburn pitcher Kaylee Carlson proved to have the steady hand as she worked out of trouble in the last two innings, guiding the No. 2 ranked Tigers to a tense victory against Nebraska.
Taking a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, Carlson saw Cassie McClure lace a hit off the left-field fence, but a Husker baserunner misread the play and was thrown out at second base. Haley Donaldson did drive in a run, but the inning ended for Nebraska (0-3) on a double play.
Protecting that one-run lead in the seventh, Carlson got one out before Gina Metzler reached on a double, on a play where two Auburn outfielders got tangled up going for the ball. But the Huskers managed just two fly balls after that, and Auburn (2-1) held on for the win.
Carlson allowed nine hits, with no walks and one strikeout. Freshman KK Crocker had two hits for the Tigers.
Nebraska starting pitcher McClure allowed seven hits to go with six walks and four strikeouts. Metzler, Austen Urness and Alyvia Simmons each had two hits for the Huskers.
With the combined efforts of three pitchers and a big burst in the second inning, Oklahoma rolled past Nebraska in Friday’s first game of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
The Sooner (2-1) got three innings from freshman starter Mariah Lopez, then another 2 1/3 from transfer Paige Lowary, before Paige Parker came in to close it out with 1 2/3 innings of solid work. All together, the Oklahoma hurlers allowed four hits and struck out five batters.
The Sooners scored five runs in the second inning, with two errors opening the door. Two bases-loaded walks from NU freshman Sydney McLeod started the scoring, and that was followed by an RBI hit from Nicole Pendley and a two-run single off the bat of Sydney Romero.
Oklahoma did not register another hit until the top of the seventh inning; Caleigh Clifton later scored on a single from Shay Knighten. Alexis Perry had two hits for Nebraska.
After getting nothing to show for hitting the ball hard in several at-bats, Washington senior All-American Ali Aguilar dumped a single into left field in the top of the 10th inning, driving in Kirstyn Thomas and the eventual winning run against Auburn in Thursday’s last game of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
The Huskies (1-0) got an amazing performance from starting pitcher Taran Alvelo, who threw 168 pitches and held the Tigers (1-1) to just four hits. Alvelo worked around some early trouble that included three walks in the first inning, but she only gave up one run in that sequence when Carlee Wallace a scored on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the 10th, Auburn got a leadoff hit by Wallace, but Alvelo retired the next three batters to secure the win.
Washington tied the game with a run in the seventh; Kelly Burdick singled and stole second, then came home on a single to center field by Taylor Van Zee. Aguilar hit the ball hard in her at-bats in the seventh and ninth innings, but handled the moment well with two outs and Thomas on third base, right after the Huskies hit into a double play.
Auburn starter Kaylee Carlson pitched eight innings, allowing 10 hits but just one run. The Tigers’ offense was in shackles for much of the game, getting a double in the third inning from Kendall Veach but then going hitless until a single by Courtney Shea in the eighth.
After dropping a one-run nail-biter in Game to to Auburn, Oklahoma responded with an impressive victory against BYU, with a five-run burst in the third inning and a typically sturdy pitching effort by Paige Parker keying the victory.
Nicole Pendley hit a two-run homer in the third, and Fale Aviu also drove in two runs in the frame. Oklahoma (1-1) put up another run in the sixth on a double from Raegan Rogers, and she scored the final run of the game on a fielder’s choice by Alissa Dalton.
Parker scattered six hits and struck out eight, without walking a batter.
Lexi Tarrow drove in BYU’s run in the fifth inning as Madison Merrell scored.
In another pulse-pounding finish featuring two of the elite programs in D-I softball, Auburn held off NCAA defending champion Oklahoma as Tigers relief pitcher Kaylee Carlson struck out the two batters she faced in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The highly anticipated matchup between last year’s NCAA championship series finalists and the preseason No. 1 (OU) and No. 2 (Auburn) teams definitely got pulses racing in the later innings. Auburn (1-0) pulled ahead 3-0 on a solo home run from Kendall Veach in the top of the seventh; Oklahoma (0-1) got singles from Sydney Romero and Nicole Pendley off starter Makayla Martin in the bottom of the inning, and they advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt.
Freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho laced a two-run single to center field to make is 3-2, and that’s when Tigers coach Clint Myers turned to Carlson. She got Kelsey Arnold on a called third strike for the second out, then got leadoff hitter Caleigh Clifton out swinging.
Veach also hit a solo homer in the third inning; the Tigers got their other run in the first on a single from Courtney Shea that plated Carlee Wallace.
Oklahoma starter Paige Lowary, a transfer from Missouri, struck out 11 batters; for the Tigers, Martin did not register any strikeouts, but scattered three hits through her first six innings of work.