Softball Battles Again But Comes up Short to No. 4 Oregon
EUGENE, Ore. – The Utah softball team battled the fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks in a doubleheader Saturday at Jane Sanders Stadium and had opportunities to win in both contests but ultimately came up short, falling 7-6 and 3-0.
Utah is now 9-8 (0-2 Pac-12) while Oregon improved to 19-1 (2-0). The losses come in a what is now a stretch of six consecutive games against teams ranked in the top 11 in the nation, and will conclude tomorrow with the finale of the four-game series at Oregon.
The Utes led 3-1 and 6-3 in the first game, but Oregon's timely hitting late in the game ultimately helped the Ducks prevail, punctuated by a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the seventh with the score tied at 6-6. In the nightcap the Utah bats were silenced as Oregon threw a three-hitter and handed the Utes their first shutout Utah 41 games, dating back to 2019.
Head Coach Amy Hogue
"We are just one or two big hits or one or two big pitches away from winning any of these games. I'm happy with so many things that we are doing, but when it comes to executing something late in a game to get us the win, we have failed. We get one more shot at them tomorrow, and need to find a way to leave here with a W in that last game."
Elicia Espinosa earned her first two opportunities in the starting lineup today and went 3-5, reaching base safely in both games. She went 2-3 with a run scored in the opener, and 1-2 in the nightcap.
Game 1: Oregon 7, Utah 6
Utah led 3-1 in the third and 6-3 in the fifth but again could not hold on. Oregon tied the game at 6-6 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and with the game still deadlocked in the bottom of the seventh came through again with a walk-off solo home run by Rachel Cid.
Haley Denning went 3-4 for the second game in a row, while Elicia Espinosa went 2-3. Madi Jacobus extended her hitting streak to 14 games with a timely three-run double in the fifth inning to give Utah a short-lived 6-3 lead. Ellessa Bonstrom was 1-4 with a two-run triple on which she scored on a throwing error, which gave Utah a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
Sydney Sandez started and pitched into the fifth inning before being relieved by Mariah Lopez (1-4), who pitched the final two-plus innings and took the loss.
Game 2: Oregon 3, Utah 0
Halle Morris delivered a solid starting performance for Utah in what turned out to be a pitcher's duel in the nightcap of the doubleheader. She held Oregon scoreless through three innings, allowing just two hits, before the Ducks broke through for their first run on two hits in the fourth. Oregon added two more runs on four hits in the fifth to stretch the lead to the eventual final score of 3-0.
Utah managed just three hits to tie its season low. Morris went the distance, scattering nine hits and three walks over 6.0 innings, with one strikeout.
- Ellessa Bonstrom's two-run triple in the third inning of the game one increased her season RBI total to 19 to reclaim the team lead.
- Utah's 6 runs and 10 hits in the opener were the team's most since recording 6 runs & 11 hits in a win at UNLV on Feb. 21.
- Madi Jacobus saw her hitting streak halted at 14 games after going hitless in the second game today. It was the longest streak of her career and longest by a Utah player since 2017 (Alyssa Barrera and Hannah Flippen, 17).
- Utah had not been shut out since April 28, 2019 at UCLA, a span of 41 games, before being held scoreless in the second game today.
Utah and Oregon will wrap up the initial four-game series of Pac-12 play Sunday at 1 p.m. MT.