Utah Splits Doubleheader on Sunday, Offensive Outburst Against CBU
TEMPE, Ariz.- Utah softball (2-3) closed out the Kajikawa Classic on Sunday with back-to-back games against #20 Duke (4-1) and California Baptist (1-4). The Utes split the games falling to the Blue Devils, 5-1, and bounced back in dominating fashion to take down the Lancers 11-1.
After the conclusion of this weekend's slate, Utah leaves 2-3 with wins against Missouri State and CBU. Sunday's win was the 373rd of head coach Amy Hogue's career at Utah, making her the winningest head coach in Utah's program history. The program's first head coach, Norma Carr, previously held the record with 372 (1976-89).
Game 1: Duke 5 Utah 1
On a crisp and early Sunday morning, the Utes faced off against #20 Duke for the second time this weekend. Senior arm Sydney Sandez was in the circle and retired the side in order to begin the game. Entering the bottom half of the inning, Haley Denning reached base and was aggressive on the paths stealing second to put her in scoring position. Two batters later, Julia Jimenez hit an RBI single to put Utah in the lead, 1-0.
Sandez went 1-2-3 again in the second and Utah held the 1-0 lead up until the top half of the fourth when the Blue Devil offense came alive. Utah got out of the inning giving up one run on two hits. The game remained knotted up at one until the top of the sixth when Duke scored one to take the 2-1 lead.
Unable to put more runs on the board, the Utes gave up a walk in the top of the seventh and then an RBI double to give Duke the 3-1 advantage. Duke crossed another two past the plate to extend the lead 5-1 and put the game out of reach for the Utes.
Sandez ended her day in the fifth, collecting four strikeouts during the outing.
Game 2: Utah 11 CBU 1
Utah put on a hitting clinic in their second game against California Baptist, scoring 11 runs on 11 hits to earn their second victory of the season. Graduate transfer Shi Smith was given the starting nod and pitched four innings, giving up just 4 hits, one run and fanned nine batters. But this game was all about the offense.
Freshman Stella Bennett continued her strong weekend of play staying disciplined at the plate in a full-count and slapped a single up the center to get on base. The following batter, Halle Morris, drew a walk and while running down to first, Bennett caught the defense sleeping and stole third. Putting the pressure on the defense, Bennett later scored on a passed ball to score the first run of the game.
Utah's offense got back to work in the top of the third as Denning singled and wasted no time stealing second base. Senior outfielder Jodryn Gasper then traded places with Denning, sending her home on a shot out to right field. For the third time this weekend, Ellessa Bonstrom sent a deep shot over the right center wall to extend the lead 4-0.
The Utes were aggressive on the base paths stealing eight bags during the contest, three of which came in the fourth where they put the game away. Aliya Belarde, Gasper, and CC Cook each stole second as the Utes drove in seven runs on seven hits. Junior Destiny White put the exclamation point on the fourth inning barreling up her first homerun of the season (fifth of her career) to make it 10-1.
Freshman Kendall Lundberg pinch hit and singled to right field to score Bennett once again, the final run of the game.
Utah is back in action next weekend with six games on the schedule at the La Jolla Invitational. The Utes are slated to go up against Saint Mary's twice, Sacramento State twice and San Diego to close out on Monday.