Series Finale For Softball Goes to 4th-ranked Oregon, 5-2
EUGENE, Ore. – Utah demonstrated once again that it has all the attributes to battle the nation's best, but could not come up with the timely plays it needed in the series finale Sunday against fourth-ranked Oregon, falling 5-2 to the host Ducks at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The Utes are now 9-9 on the season (0-3 Pac-12) while Oregon improves to 20-1 (3-0). Starting pitcher Mariah Lopez (1-5) took the loss for Utah while Oregon ace Brooke Yanez went the distance to earn the win and improve to 9-0.
Utah scored first, going up 1-0 in the top of the first, but Oregon used home runs early and two-out hitting late to provide the difference. The Utes are coming off a stretch of seven consecutive games against teams ranked in the top 11 in the nation, and have had opportunities in each game, but will need to translate the lessons learned to get back on the winning track.
Julia Noskin singled in the first and moved to second when Ellessa Bonstrom was hit by a pitch, and came in to score on a two-out single by Alyssa Barrera to put Utah ahead 1-0. Two Oregon home runs in the bottom of the first gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead, which it held until the top of the fifth when Haley Denning singled and advanced to third on a stolen base and a throwing error, then came in to score on an infield single by Noskin.
Oregon answered again in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out looper into shallow right field that scored two before Utah could get out of the inning. Sydney Sandez had been effective in relief but could not get that third out before Oregon stretched its lead to the eventual tally of 5-2.
Head Coach Amy Hogue
"The Pac-12 is a grind. It was when it was a three-game series and it is even more now that it is a four-game series. Our pitching staff kept us close enough that every game was within reach. That's why it was heartbreaking to not come away with a win this weekend.
This is a series that can either kill you or make you stronger. We are choosing to have it make us stronger. We open at home on Tuesday and will be looking forward to playing at home for the next couple of weeks."
Senior shortstop Julia Noskin went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and reached based for the fifth consecutive game.
- Alyssa Barrera's first-inning RBI single gave her a hit in each game of the four-game series and her first RBI of the series.
- Haley Denning now has 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts this season after stealing second in the fifth inning. She has 11 consecutive stolen bases since last being thrown out on Feb. 14 vs. Seattle.
- Denning's 15 stolen bases represent a career high and are the most by a Utah player since Hannah Flippen had 15 in 2016.
Utah will play at home for the first time this season, with six games on the schedule, beginning with a doubleheader on Tuesday, March 23 vs. Utah Valley University. Stanford comes to Salt Lake City Fri.-Sun., March 26-28, for a four-game series.