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Softball Takes Both Games on Friday in San Diego

Feb 18, 2022

SAN DIEGO- The Utah softball team was victorious in both of their games today to open up the La Jolla Invitational on Friday. The Utes defeated Saint Mary's, 6-2 and just edged out Sacramento State, 9-8 in a game that came down to the last out.

Utah moves to 4-3 overall with four more games to play this weekend.

Game 1: Utah 6 Saint Mary's 2
Sophomore Mariah Lopez got the start in the circle against Saint Mary's and held them scoreless for four innings, collecting three strikeouts over those frames. Junior Haley Denning was the first base runner for Utah laying down a bunt for the first hit of the game. Continuing the aggressive base running from last week, Denning wasted no time stealing second and advancing to third on the throw. In scoring position, senior Ellessa Bonstrom drove in Denning with a single up the middle to give the Utes the 1-0 lead.

Stealing second and again putting the pressure on the Gaels defense, senior Jordyn Gasper singled to right field and scored Bonstrom for her fifth RBI of the season. Saint Mary's answered with a run in the fifth but Utah countered as sophomore Aliya Belarde singled to drive in Shelbi Ortiz, who pinch ran for Elicia Espinosa after her base hit.

The Utes put the game away in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs on four hits. Bonstrom started the fun dropping a bunt for a base hit, Julia Jimenez was then hit by a pitch and Gasper loaded them up with another bunt. Destiny White grounded into a 1-6-3 double play, but was able to advance Jimenez to third and score Bonstrom to extend the lead, 4-1. Sophomore Sophie Jacquez was inserted into the lineup as a pinch hitter and got the job done recording her first hit and RBI of the season to send Jimenez home. Jacquez then stole her first bag of the year and scored to put the game out of reach, 6-1.

The Gaels put one more on the board in the seventh but senior Sydney Sandez closed out the game for the 6-2 victory. Lopez went six innings, striking out 5 to earn her first win of the year. 

Game 2: Utah 9 Sacramento State 8
In the first of a pair of games the Utes face Sacramento State this weekend, Utah was able to hang on for the win after giving up four in the top of the seventh to walk away with the 9-8 nail biting victory. Katie Faulk hit her first double of the season to score pinch runner Ortiz and tie the game up at one a piece. The next batter, Stella Bennett, striped a ball up the middle to bring around Faulk to score and give Utah the 2-1 advantage.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Bonstrom lined a drive into the right center gap for a bases clearing triple. Later in the inning, Espinosa went deep for the first time this year hitting a two-run shot over the left field fence.

The Hornets answered with three runs in the top of the sixth as Utah added one more courtesy of Denning. 9-4 heading into the last inning, the Hornets didn't go down without a fight scoring three before the Utes made a pitching change. Sandez entered the game with no outs and runners in scoring position. Issuing a two ground outs and then a single though the left side brought the game within one with two outs and a runner on third. A high pressure situation, Sandez kept her composure and struck out the next batter to end the game.

Up Next
The Utes continue play on Saturday with two games on the schedule. Utah will start the day for game two against Sacramento State at 12:00pm MT and will cap it off with a matchup against tournament host, UC San Diego. Slated to start at 5:30pm Mt, the game will be aired on ESPN3.

Follow the Utes
For fans of the Utah softball program, follow the Utes on Twitter (@Utah_Softball), Instagram (@utahsoftball) and Facebook (@utesoftball).