Utes Surrender Late Lead at No. 4 Oregon in Pac-12 Softball Opener
EUGENE, Ore. – Utah held No. 4 Oregon largely in check until deep into the sixth inning before the Ducks broke through for three runs, all with two outs, to break a 2-2 tie en route to a 5-2 victory Friday night in the Pac-12 opener at Jane Sanders Stadium. Halle Morris (2-1) took the loss for Utah (9-6) in relief of starter Mariah Lopez, while Makenna Kliethermes earned the win for Oregon (17-1).
Starter Mariah Lopez was solid through four-plus innings, allowing just five hits and two runs while striking out three before being relieved by Morris with two on and nobody out in the fifth. Morris limited the damage to one run, which tied the game, until the Ducks' breakout in the sixth. Morris had a full count with two outs and two on, looking to get out of the sixth inning but Oregon's Hannah Delgado laced a triple to bring in both runners for a 4-2 lead. The Ducks added one more in the inning for the eventual 5-2 win.
Haley Denning went 3-4 with a run scored to lead Utah at the plate. She led off the game with a single to right and stole second. Julia Noskin followed with a walk, and one batter later Madi Jacobus lined a shot into the right field corner that brought home Denning and Noskin as Jacobus cruised into third with a triple. Utah allowed one run in the bottom of the first, and held the 2-1 lead through four inning before Oregon tied the game in the fifth.
Haley Denning collected three hits in four at-bats for her third three-hit game of the season. It is her first since Feb. 20 at UNLV.
- Madi Jacobus extended her hitting streak to 13 games tonight, the longest streak of her career and longest by a Utah player since 2017 (Alyssa Barrera and Hannah Flippen, 17).
- Mariah Lopez struck out three batters to increase her team-leading total to 26 Ks on the season.
- Utah saw its streak of six consecutive games with a home run snapped. The Utes had hit 14 total homers in that six-game span.
- Freshman Aliyah Belarde made her first career start at second base, and started for the third game in a row. Her previous two starts came at shortstop (vs. UCLA and at ASU, 3/1/21).
- Haley Denning stole two bases to increase her team-leading total to 14 for the season.
Utah and Oregon will tangle again Saturday in a doubleheader in Eugene. The first game is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT.