Softball Starts 2022 Season at Kajikawa Classic
SALT LAKE CITY- The Utah softball team will kick off the 2022 season down in Tempe, Ariz., at the Kajikawa Classic this weekend, Feb. 11th-13th. Playing five games in three days, Utah's tournament slate features three matchups against a pair of top-20 preseason ranked teams.
At Alberta B. Farrington Stadium, Utah will open up against #5 Oklahoma State at 2:00pm on Friday afternoon and will cap off the night with a matchup against Missouri State at 7:00pm. The Utes return to the field for one game on Saturday at 4:30pm against #20 Duke and will close out the tournament with a doubleheader against Blue Devils at 8:00am and California Baptist at 10:30am.
|How to Watch
|Utah vs. #5 Oklahoma State
|Missouri State vs. Utah
|#20 Duke vs. Utah
|Pac-12 Los Angeles
|#20 Duke vs. Utah
|California Baptist vs. Utah
|Pac-12 Now App
How to Watch
All of Utah's five games can be seen on TV or on the Pac-12 Now App over the weekend. Their opening game against #5 Oklahoma State is set to start at 2:00pm MT and will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks. Jack Cronin will be the play-by-play with Kenzie Fowler serving as the color analyst.
Utah's third game against #20 Duke is set to start at 4:30pm MT and can be seen on Pac-12 Los Angeles while the double header on Sunday can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks or Pac-12 Now App. Darron Sutton joins Fowler on Saturday and Sunday and replaces Cronin as the play-by-play.
The Utah softball team will get a test right off the bat to start the 2022 season going up against a unanimous top-five preseason team in Oklahoma State. According to the USA Today/NFCA DI Coaches Poll, the Cowgirls were ranked #5 and is their highest preseason ranking since 1994.
Since 2005, Utah has faced the Cowgirls a total of five times and have yet to walk away with a victory. Their latest matchup was in 2020 at the Mizuno Tournament in Stillwater, Okla., where the Utes loss the game under the lights, 11-2.
Game 2 vs. Missouri State
Time: 7:00pm MT
Tickets: Buy here
The Missouri State Bears return 13 players from last years roster, including their top-four pitchers and hitters. In the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bears were picked to finish third while earning one first place vote.
This marks the first matchup between the Utes and Bears.
In the last matchup against the Blue Devils, the Utes got out to a hot start scoring two runs in the first off of a two-run blast by last season's homerun leader Ellessa Bonstrom. Holding the 2-0 lead for the next two innings, Duke got on the scoreboard in the fourth after three of the first four batters singled setting up for a single through the left side to score two and tie the game. Duke threatened again in the fifth and scored two more take the 4-2 advantage. Utah answered in the bottom of the fifth with one run but ultimately couldn't tie the game and dropped the matchup 4-3.
Entering 2022, the Blue Devils are ranked #20 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Coaches Poll and were voted to finish fourth in the ACC.
Utah will face CBU for the second consecutive year and last season, the Utes and Lancers split the pair of games at the UNLV Deseret Classic. In game one, Utah went up 3-0 early in the game but failed to hold the lead dropping the first matchup, 5-3. Utah turned it around in the second game and brought the score within two after plating three runs in the second and two in the third. Entering the top of the seventh, Utah's bats got hot as they put up nine runs to blow open the game and take the victory, 14-7.
Fans planning on attending the Kajikawa Classic this weekend can purchase tickets through the Sun Devil Ticket Office. Multiple ticket options are available with single day tickets starting at $15 and full session passes at $50.
How to Follow
Keep up with live game action throughout the weekend by following @Utah_Softball in Twitter. Tournament updates will be provided along with pictures of the games.
2021 in Review
Utah's offense came alive last season as they hit the most home runs (46) by a Utah team since 2012 (53) and finished second in the Pac-12 with 13 triples. They also scored 237 runs, the most since 2017. Situationaly, the Utes weren't afraid to play some small ball laying down 23 sac bunts, the third most in the conference.
Individually, standout junior Haley Denning led the team offensively. Denning finished the year with a .391 batting average (5th Pac-12) and led the conference in hits with 75 (5th nationally). Addtionally, she led the team in runs (46), triples (5) and milti-hit games (23). On the base paths, Denning was by far the most aggresive runner in the conference and nation stealing 31 bags (11th nationally).
Senior Ellessa Bonstrom contributed to the Utes offense leading the team in home runs (14) and RBI's (42). She finished with a .268 batting average and was second on the team in runs scored with 37. In the field, Bonstrom led the team fielding 14 of the teams 23 total double plays which ranked second in the conference.
Home Sweet Home
Six players return to their home state of Arizona this weekend. The list of players includes Denning, Bonstrom, Mariah Lopez, Katie Faulk, CC Cook and Halle Morris. Local to the Phoenix area, Denning attending Arcadia High School while Cook attended Pinnacle High School.
Bonstrom, Faulk and Morris all hail from Tucson, Ariz., as Bonstrom and Morris both attended Canyon Del Oro High. Northwest of Phoenix is the city of Peoria where Lopez attended Centennial High School.