Softball Hosts No. 2 UCLA in Four-Game Weekend Series
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah welcomes No. 2 UCLA to Dumke Family Stadium this weekend for a four-game Pac-12 series, beginning Friday at 5 p.m. The Utes and Bruins met earlier this season in a neutral-site game in Tempe, Ariz., which then-No. 1 UCLA won in a comeback effort after Utah led 5-2 through four innings.
On Sunday Utah will begin its Senior Recognitions, honoring 2020 seniors BreOnna Castaneda and Claire Feldman, who were unable to experience a senior day because of the pandemic. A special pregame recognition will include throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, and a postgame tribute will include a tribute from head coach Amy Hogue. Utah will honor its 2021 seniors in a ceremony during the season's final home series May 13-15.
Coming off Wednesday's sweep of a doubleheader with Idaho State, Utah is in an extended stretch of seven consecutive home games that will conclude with a single game against Weber State next Tuesday, May 6. Limited spectator attendance is allowed at Dumke Family Stadium due to COVID-19 protocols, and masks are required, but admission is free.
Utah (19-23; 2-13 Pac-12) vs. No. 2 UCLA (28-3; 10-2 Pac-12)
Fri., April 30 – 5 p.m. MT | WATCH | LIVESTATS
Sat., May 1 – 2 p.m. MT | WATCH | LIVESTATS
Sat., May 1 – 4:30 p.m. MT | WATCH | LIVESTATS
Sun., May 2 – 12 p.m. MT | WATCH | LIVESTATS
THE LAST TIME
March1, 2021 (Tempe, Ariz.); UCLA won 6-5 (UCLA ranked No. 1)
- Utah continues its seven-game homestand with its third Pac-12 home series of 2021, and will have one more to conclude the regular season, May 13-15 vs. Oregon State.
- The Utes have one other non-conference game remaining on the schedule: May 4 against Weber State (rescheduled from April 16 because of weather).
- Second-ranked UCLA is the highest-ranked team to visit Salt Lake City since March 31, 2019 when Utah hosted No. 2 Oklahoma for a doubleheader.
- UCLA also was ranked No. 2 the last time the two teams met in a series, April 26-28, 2019, at UCLA.
- The Utes are 17-2 against non-Pac-12 opponents in 2021
- Fifteen of Utah's 42 games this season have come against Pac-12 opponents ranked in the Top 15 in the nation.
PAC-12/NATIONAL STAT RANKINGS
- Utah ranks second in the Pac-12 in double plays per game (0.40).
- The Utes also rank second in triples per game (.26; 17 total) and stolen bases per game (1.31; 55 total).
- LF Haley Denning leads the Pac-12 (8th NCAA) in stolen bases (28-31) and hits (58; 12th NCAA) and ranks second in the Pac-12 triples (5; T9th NCAA) and seventh in runs per game (.93).
- INF Ellessa Bonstrom ranks third (23rd NCAA) in the Pac-12 in home runs (14).
Avg.: Haley Denning, .389 | Madi Jacobus, .341 | Julia Noskin, .295
Hits: Haley Denning, 58 | Alyssa Barrera, 37 | Julia Noskin, 33
HR: Ellessa Bonstrom, 14| Alyssa Barrera, 5 |Katie Faulk, Madi Jacobus & Halle Morris, 4
RBI: Ellessa Bonstrom, 35 | Alyssa Barrera, 33 | Halle Morris, 23
Runs: Haley Denning, 39 | Ellessa Bonstrom, 31 | Julia Noskin, 25
SB: Haley Denning, 28 | Julia Noskin, 10 | Ellessa Bonstrom, 6
Slug.: Ellessa Bonstrom, .733 | Madi Jacobus, .523 | Haley Denning & Alyssa Barrera, .470
Wins: Sydney Sandez, 10 | Mariah Lopez, 4 | Halle Morris, 4
ERA: Halle Morris, 3.99 | Sydney Sandez, 4.26 | Mariah Lopez, 5.03
IP: Sydney Sandez, 93.2 | Mariah Lopez, 72.1 | Halle Morris, 66.2
Ks: Mariah Lopez, 53 | Sydney Sandez, 43 | Halle Morris, 24
Centerfielder Alyssa Barrera began the season ranked fifth in career batting average at Utah (.367), and is now at .349 (233-668). 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 at .276 this season (37-134).
- Barrera, who played in her 200th career game on April 1 vs. ASU, now has 233 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.
- Ellessa Bonstrom has been on another home-run tear over the last 11 games, hitting six HRs in that span, a pace better than every two games.
- Bonstrom now has 14, the most home runs by a Utah player since 2009 when Kara Foster hit 18.
- Over the 11 games since her return from injury Bonstrom is hitting .379 (11-29) with 6 HRs, 15 RBI and 13 runs scored.
- Haley Denning has a career-best and team-high 28 stolen bases in 31 attempts this season, most since 2001 when Molly McLean stole 37 (in 46 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, and most recently stole nine in a row before being thrown out at Arizona last weekend. She started a new streak with two successful attempts in Wednesday's doubleheader vs. Idaho State.
- Denning has been a model of consistency, leading the team with a .389 batting average (58-149) mostly in the leadoff spot, and a team-best .346 average (27-78) in 23 games against Pac-12 opponents. She also leads the team with 19 multi-hit games, including six with three hits.
- In addition to the 28 stolen bases by Denning, Julia Noskin has 10 (in 12 att.), marking the first time Utah has had two players in double figures in stolen bases in the same season since 2012.
- Destiny Quiles entered last week without a home run in her college career and hit three in the six games last week. She hit her first career homer Wednesday night at BYU (4/21), added her second on Friday night in the series opener at Arizona and on Saturday hit her third.
- True freshman Mariah Lopez has continued to blossom in her first collegiate season with four wins and is the team's leader in strikeouts (53).
- Madi Jacobus earlier this season put together the longest hitting streak by a Utah player since 2017, 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.
- Jacobus made a huge impact in her return Wednesday night against Idaho State after missing several weeks because of injury, going 5-8 with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored in the Utes' doubleheader sweep.
- Utah's four home runs in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader matched a career high last achieved in a 14-12 win at UNLV on Feb. 20.
- The Utes' 16 hits in that game were a season high and their 14 runs in game one tied a season high achieved twice on Feb. 20 in the UNLV tournament, in wins over California Baptist and UNLV.
- 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.
- 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.
- Eight Utah player have hit home runs this year: Bonstrom (14), Barrera (5), Faulk (4), Morris (4), Jacobus (4), AJ Militello (3), Alyssa Palacios (3), Destiny Quiles (3), Jordyn Gasper (2) and Julia Scardina.
Utah's large freshman class has made an impact throughout the 2021 season. Six of the eight have seen game action thus far: Aliya Belarde, Alicia Estrada, Sophie Jacquez, Mariah Lopez, Shelbi Ortiz and Savanah Whatley.
- Lopez, who leads the team with 53 strikeouts (in 72.1 inn.), 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 11 games at shortstop, two at third base and one at second base.
- Jacquez has started once in right field and once as DH.
- Estrada has made five pitching appearances.
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, and she is presently pursuing a master's degree in Information Systems.
Three other seniors are graduating and receiving bachelor's degrees next week: Katie Faulk (Kinesiology), Julia Noskin (Communication) and Alyssa Palacios (Psychology).
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 368-340-1 record and sports a 565-422-1 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 as many as 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 23 games against preseason No. 1 UCLA (5), No. 2 Washington (4), No. 3 Arizona (4), No. 10 Oregon (5) and No. 16 ASU (5). 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.
Two former Utah standouts are currently preparing for this summer's Tokyo Olympic Games—Hannah Flippen (2014-17) with Team USA and Anissa Urtez (2014-17) with the Mexican National Team. Flippen, who is an alternate with Team USA, has been participating in the Stand Beside Her Tour, and last Wednesday (4/21/21) hit a home run in a 16-0 tour win over Team Italy.
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 concludes its seven-game homestand with its final non-conference game of 2021, hosting Weber State on Tuesday, May 4, at 5 p.m. at Dumke Family Stadium.