Utah Hosts No. 14/13 Arizona State in Three-Game Series Thu.-Sat.
Utah Softball's nine-game homestand concludes this week with a three-game series against No. 14/13 Arizona State at Dumke Family Stadium. Originally scheduled as a customary four-game Pac-12 series, it was reduced to three games by eliminating the second game of the Friday doubleheader and changing the single game's start time to 4 p.m. The scheduling change is due to the Arizona State program not meeting the minimum number of players due to non-COVID related health issues. By Pac-12 rules, a team may elect to compete even if it is below the threshold.
Fans are welcome with a limited capacity for general admission seating. Face coverings are required and physical distancing will be in effect in the seating areas and outfield grass berm.
UTAH VS. ASU IN 2021
Feb. 13 (Tempe), ASU won 9-4 *ASU ranked No. 15/16
March 1 (Tempe), ASU won 8-2 *ASU ranked No. 13/11
- Thursday's series opener will be the 200th career game for fifth-year Alyssa Barrera.
- Utah enters the weekend in search of its first win over a Pac-12 opponent this season, despite battling in close contests on a number of occasions against ranked conference foes.
- Four Utah players are batting over .300, led by Haley Denning (.375), Madi Jacobus (.329), Julia Noskin (.305) and Alyssa Barrera (.304).
- Utah is 5-2 in 1-run games and has three wins when trailing after 5 innings, including two when trailing after 6.
PAC-12/NATIONAL STAT RANKINGS
- Utah entered the week ranked second in the Pac-12 in double plays per game (0.38).
- LF Haley Denning entered the week leading the Pac-12 and ranking 13th in the nation in stolen bases per game (0.75; 18-20).
- Denning also ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in hits (33)
Avg.: Haley Denning, .375 | Madi Jacobus, .329 | Julia Noskin, .305
Hits: Haley Denning, 33 | Madi Jacobus, 25 | Alyssa Barrera, 24
HR: Ellessa Bonstrom, 7 | Katie Faulk, 4 | 3 with 3 (Barrera, Jacobus, Morris)
RBI: Alyssa Barrera, 25 | Ellessa Bonstrom, 19 | Madi Jacobus 17
Runs: Haley Denning, 23 | Ellessa Bonstrom, 16 | Julia Noskin, 15
SB: Haley Denning, 18 | Julia Noskin, 6
Slug.: Ellessa Bonstrom, .632 | Alyssa Barrera, .506 | Madi Jacobus, .500
Wins: Sydney Sandez, 6 | Halle Morris, 2
ERA: Halle Morris, 3.47 | Sydney Sandez, 3.84
IP: Sydney Sandez, 58.1 | Halle Morris, 40.1 | Mariah Lopez, 36.2
Ks: Mariah Lopez, 34 | Sydney Sandez, 30 | Mary Beth Feldman, 14
Centerfielder Alyssa Barrera ranks fifth in career batting average at Utah, at .359 (220-613). She batted .381 as a freshman in 2017 (64-168), .322 in 2018 (49-152), .376 in 2019 (59-157) .421 in 2020 (24-57) and is off to a .304 start in 2021 (24-79).
Barrera now has 220 career hits. She needs to reach 245 to break into Utah's all-time top 5 and 264 to break Hannah Flippen's school record.
- Madi Jacobus put together the longest hitting streak by a Utah player since 2017 earlier this season, at 14 games. It was the longest streak of her career and longest since Barrera and Hannah Flippen went 17 games in a row with a hit.
- In a six-game stretch from Feb. 20-March 1, Utah had at least one home run in each game and 14 total in that span, including a season-high 4 at UNLV on Feb. 20 in the second game of the streak.
- Ellessa Bonstrom had 4 HRs in a 3-game span early in that streak, Feb. 20-21. The 4 HRs came in a span of 10 trips to the plate (8 AB, plus 2 walks). She was hit by pitch in two of her last three at-bats that day to finish the game 1-2.
- Haley Denning has a career-best and team-high 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts this season, most since 2012 when Kelsi Hoopiiaiana stole 19 (in 19 att.). Denning stole 12 consecutive bases before being thrown out on her second attempt in the first game of a March 24 doubleheader vs. Utah Valley.
- Eight Utah player have hit home runs this year: Bonstrom (7), Faulk (4), Barrera (3), Jacobus (3), Morris (3), Jordyn Gasper, AJ Militello, Alyssa Palacios and Julia Scardina. Utah has 24 HRs on the year to their opponents' 21.
Utah's large freshman class has made an impact already in 2021. Six of the eight have seen game action thus far: Aliya Belarde, Alicia Estrada, Sophie Jacquez, Mariah Lopez, Shelbi Ortiz and Savanah Whatley.
- Lopez earned her first career win at UNLV on Feb. 21, allowing just four hits and a walk in a complete-game performance. She struck out 11 batters—including the last three she faced, to end the game—the most by a Utah pitcher since 2012 when Generra Nielson struck out 12 against Utah Valley (5/8/12).
- Belarde has started five games at shortstop and one at second base.
- Jacquez has started once in right field and once as DH.
This year's captains representing the Utes are fifth-year Alyssa Barrera and fellow seniors Alyssa Palacios and Julia Noskin.
A GRADUATE AND A "SUPER SENIOR"
Fifth-year Alyssa Barrera earned her bachelor's degree from Utah in April 2020 and elected to come back for her "Super Senior" season in 2021 when the NCAA allowed that choice after the 2020 season was cut short due to the pandemic. Barrera's degree is in Communications, with a minor in Business.
Utah's roster features two players who have earned NFCA All-Region honors during their career.
- CF Alyssa Barrera earned all-region honors for the first time in 2017, and for a second time in 2019 when she paced Utah with a .376 batting average (13th Pac-12), 59 hits, 37 RBI and a .432 on-base percentage. She also finished second on the team with 30 runs scored, nine doubles and a .599 slugging percentage. Barrera's seven triples led the Pac-12 and ranked fifth nationally while tying the school record.
- SS Julia Noskin picked up her first NFCA honor in 2019 after leading Utah with 36 runs scored and nine stolen bases in 2019. She was second on the team with 54 hits and ranked third in batting (.318). Noskin also paced the Pac-12 with 130 fielding assists and her prowess in the field helped Utah turn a league-best 28 double plays.
HEAD COACH AMY HOGUE | 14TH YEAR (Utah '94)
Amy Hogue is in her 22nd season affiliated with the Utah Softball program and 14th as head coach. Hogue, who was inducted into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020, has made an incredible impact on the program as a student-athlete (1991-94), assistant coach (1996-99) and head coach (2008-present).
- In her 14th season as the Utes' head coach, Hogue has a 360-330-1 record and sports a 557-412-1 overall mark in her 20th year as a collegiate head coach.
- The 2015 Pac-12 Coach of the Year led the Utes to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths from 2015-2017, including back-to-back Super Regionals for the first time in program history (2016, 2017).
- In 2020 she guided the Utes to a blazing 14-4 start and a No. 21 national ranking before the season was cut short just prior to the start of Pac-12 play because of COVID-19 concerns.
- A standout performer for the Utes from 1991-1994, Hogue earned second team All-America honors and WAC Player of the Year as a senior.
- Before becoming Utah's head coach, Hogue built and mentored Salt Lake Community College's program from 1999-2004.
PAC-12 SCHEDULE IN 2021
In Pac-12 Conference play this year, teams will play a four-game series each weekend, with a doubleheader on the second day of each series. Only three of the four games will count toward the Conference standings, meaning each team will play a total of 32 games against league opponents in the conference portion of the schedule (March 19-May 15), but only 24 will count toward determining the Pac-12 champion.
- The two single games and the first game of the doubleheader, regardless of day, will count as Conference games.
- If all four games are played, the second game on Day 2 of each series will be counted as a non-conference game.
- If only three contests are completed in total, all will count as Conference games.
- Utah's schedule included four other non-conference games against Pac- 12 foes, one against ASU in the Kajikawa Classic (Feb. 13) and three others (vs. Oregon, UCLA and ASU) in Tempe, Ariz., Feb. 28-March 1.
While Utah received votes in the preseason rankings, falling just outside the Top 25, five Pac-12 opponents the Utes face in 2021 were ranked in the preseason poll. Utah is scheduled to play a combined 24 games against preseason No. 1 UCLA (5), No. 2 Washington (4), No. 3 Arizona (4), No. 10 Oregon (5) and No. 16 ASU (6). The updated polls can be found here.
UTES CONTINUE TO EXCEL IN THE CLASSROOM
Utah placed eight student-athletes on the Pac-12 Spring Academic Honor Roll in 2020. Two-time NFCA All-Region honoree and All-Pac-12 performer Alyssa Barrera received her third academic award. Julia Noskin, another Ute recognized as an All-Pac-12 player, notched her second academic honor, as did BreOnna Castaneda and Katie Faulk, while Ellessa Bonstrom, Haley Denning, Claire Feldman and Jordyn Gasper earned their first Pac-12 academic honors. Utah has had 33 student-athletes earn 53 Pac-12 All-Academic honors since joining the conference in 2012.
UNLV DESERT CLASSIC REVIEW
For the second tournament in a row the Utes won four of five games in a weekend, defeating host UNLV twice (14-12, 6-3) and Weber State (4-3) and California Baptist (14-7) once each at the Desert Classic in Las Vegas. The lone loss came to CBU (5-3). After splitting Day 1 the Utes responded with back-to-back 14-run games on Saturday, and closed out the weekend with freshman Mariah Lopez's 11-strikeout complete game win on Sunday. Julia Noskin batted .500 for the weekend, Madi Jacobus batted .476 and Ellessa Bonstrom belted four home runs in a stretch of 8 at-bats over three games, all wins.
KAJIKAWA CLASSIC AND GCU REVIEW
Utah won four of its five games Feb. 12-14 at the Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State, after winning its season opener the night before at Grand Canyon, 6-5. The Utes claimed three wins over Seattle and a 1-0 shutout of BYU, with the only loss coming against tournament host No. 15/16 ASU.
- In the season opener at GCU, the Utes rallied for five runs in the top of the 8th and needed every one of them after GCU battled back with 4 runs of its own, for the 6-5 win.
- Utah scored 10 runs twice in wins over Seattle, and won its first two tournament games by one run (2-1 over Seattle and 1-0 over BYU) to claim one-run victories in each of the season's first three games.
- The Utes showed considerable fight after falling behind 9-0 to ASU, rallying for four runs with timely hitting, including a two-run double by Alyssa Barrera into the right-field corner for her 200th career hit.
- Haley Denning had a hit in all six games for the week (10-23; .435) and Ellessa Bonstrom homered in three of the five tournament games.
CELEBRATING A HOMECOMING
The Utah softball program has produced countless leaders who have gone on to significant careers in a variety of professions, including head coach Amy (Timmel) Hogue (1991-94). Another who has risen in the intercollegiate athletics world is two-time All-American Charmelle Green, who starred at Utah from 1988-91, and was a teammate of Coach Hogue. It was announced Jan. 26 that Green will be returning to her to Utah as deputy A.D. and chief operating officer and she officially began her new role March 1. Green, who was inducted into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001, and joined by Hogue in 2020, had spent the previous 10 years at Penn State.
Utah travels to St. George to face Dixie State on April 6 & 7, at 3 p.m. both days, and an additional game against Southern Utah later in the day on April 7 (5:30 p.m.). The Utes then stay on the road for a four-game Pac-12 series at Cal., Fri.-Sun., April 9-11.