Softball Stays Undefeated in San Diego
SAN DIEGO- The Utah softball team (6-3) continued its strong play on Saturday at the La Jolla Invitational winning both games against Sacramento State and tournament host UC San Diego. The Utes offense came alive scoring 16 runs on 23 hits and collected 15 RBI. In the circle, the Utah pitching staff was stellar in their outings combining for just seven hits, two walks and a dominate 13 strike outs.
Utah moves to 6-3 overall and will matchup up against Saint Mary's for the second time this weekend, in an attempt to sweep the weekend slate on Sunday.
Game 1: Utes 13 Sacramento State 0
Going up against Sacramento State for the second game in a row, the Utes were on a mission to prove a point as the Hornets doubled them up the night before in hits and almost completed an 8-1 comeback.
Senior Sydney Sandez had herself a day on the mound throwing a six-inning shutout to keep the Hornet offense quiet, giving up only three hits and finished with five strike outs for her second win of the season.
It was a slow start offensively for both teams through the first two innings with no runs being scored, but the Utes broke that trend coming up to bat in the top of the third. Juniors Destiny White and AJ Militello woke up the Utah offense as White singled to right field and Militello was inserted as a pinch runner. Without hesitation, Militello took off for second and was successful putting Utah in scoring position. The next batter, senior Elicia Espinosa, singled to right and advanced on the throw as Militello was able to score and put the Utes up 1-0.
Later in the inning, junior Haley Denning laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Belarde over to third and score freshman Stella Bennett. Closing out the big third inning, junior Julia Jimenez crushed her first home run in a Utah uniform to extend the lead 5-0.
Scoring one in the fifth off a sacrifice fly from Jimenez, Utah exploded in the seventh scoring seven runs on eight hits. Senior Ellessa Bonstrom set the tone driving a shot into the right-center wall for the lead off double. Jimenez, senior Jordyn Gasper, sophomore Sophie Jacquez and Espinosa all recorded hits in the innings to help push the lead to 9-0. In her first action of the weekend, Freshman Kendall Lundberg pinch hit for Bennett and pulled one down the left field line for her second hit and RBI of the season. Sophomore Aliya Belarde then singled to load the bases and allow Denning to do what she does best, put the ball in play and score Espinosa on her ground out to second. Bonstrom stepped into the box and put the final nail in the coffin, hitting a single to right to score both Belarde and Lundberg and put the Utes on top 13-0.
Looking to have an offensive outburst, the Utes did just that totaling 16 hits, their highest hit count of the season so far.
Game 2: Utes 3 UC San Diego 1
The bats cooled off just a bit as the Tritons of UC San Diego put up a fight against Utah that tested the Utes in crunch time. Similar to the game before, both teams were scoreless until more aggressive base running put Militello on third and set up Denning to once again put the ball in play and use her speed for the single and score Militello for the 1-0 advantage.
The Tritons put a run on the board in the fourth and the game stayed knotted up at 1 for the next two innings until Utah broke through and scored two runs in the top half of the sixth, courtesy of a Jimenez single to score Bonstrom and a Jacquez double through the right side to move Cook across the plate.
A two-run cushion for Sandez, she was in total control issuing two ground outs and a K in the sixth and did the same in the seventh to close the game for Utah. Sandez entered the day 1-0 and left 3-0 off of very strong performances.
Utah will play their final game of the La Jolla Invitational on Sunday against Saint Mary's. The game is set to begin at 1:30pm MT and fans can follow the action live here.