UNLV softball to make televised return against Aztecs 

Rebels, out of MWC championship contention, can still alter fate of San Diego State University

Coming off a Senior Day in which they won in dominating fashion, the UNLV softball team hits the road one last time to finish their season against rival San Diego State this weekend in San Diego, Calif.

The Rebels (21-28 overall, 7-8 Mountain West) have been eliminated from winning the Mountain West Conference championship, however, do still have a say in determining SDSU’s fate.

SDSU (32-18, 10-5), who is looking for their sixth conference championship in 13 seasons, is currently in first place in the MWC with Fresno State (11-7) hot on their trail. With a series win, UNLV would knock their heated rival from the rank of champion.

The series is scheduled to begin play this weekend (May 9-11) with start times of 6 p.m., 5 p.m., and 1 p.m., respectively.

The game on Friday will take on just a bit more meaning to each team as it has the past two seasons.

Friday’s game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network (Cox: 333, DirecTV: 613) where the Rebels have shined in seasons past. UNLV is 2-0 against SDSU in nationally televised games with both victories — in Las Vegas — in come-from-behind fashion.

If UNLV is to continue that streak this weekend, they’ll have to do so with the offense that’s paced them since midway through the season and a defense that’s been ferocious.

UNLV ranks fifth nationally in double plays per game thanks to a pitching staff led by nationally ranked pitcher Amanda Oliveto. Oliveto, who ranks No. 61 in victories (18), No. 63 in shutouts (5), and No. 93 in strikeouts (161), is first, second and third in those categories, respectively, in the MWC.

The offense has kept pace, too.

Stefany Valentino ranks No. 48 in batting average (.415) nationally, and No. 80 in on-base percentage (.488). Valentino also leads the MWC in both hitting (batting .490 with 25 hits) and is second in on-base percentage (.527), runs (14), and total bases (39). She ranks third in slugging percentage (.765).

Aside from being UNLV’s all-time hit-by-pitch leader, Tayler Van Acker ranks nationally in the category (No. 50) with a 0.25 average per game. As far as MWC accolades go, she’s first in on-base percentage (.538), second in runs (14), and third in slugging percentage (.765), doubles (5) and batting average (.517).

Pauline Monreal rounds out the Rebels national accolades by ranking No. 105 in doubles per game with a 0.27 average. Monreal is fifth in the MWC with doubles (13) and leads the conference with 19 RBI.

The Rebels as a whole rank first overall in batting average (.327), slugging percentage (.487), on-base percentage (.381), runs (82) and total bases (194).

They’re second in hits (130) and third in RBIs (68), doubles (21), triples (two), home runs (13), hit-by-pitch (10), sac bunts (14) and stolen bases (15).

UNLV should have a lot to look forward to next season as Oliveto, Valentino, Van Acker, and Monreal are all juniors, but focus for the team is finishing off this season on a strong note.

The softball team takes on SDSU Friday, May 10, at 5 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

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