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Softball Downed in Both Games of LMU Double Header

Mar 9, 2022

LOS ANGELES- Utah softball battled in both of their games on Tuesday as the first went into extra innings, but ultimately fell to LMU to wrap up their road preseason schedule. The Utes were downed 8-7 in game one and was in control for all of the second until LMU's offense came alive for their second walk-off the day.  

The team finished their longest trip of the season with a 4-3 record and are 15-8 overall.

Game 1: Utes 7, LMU 8
Sydney Sandez stepped into the circle for Utah and retired the first two batters to start the bottom frame, but the Lions struck first scoring two runs off three hits, including a double that took a high bounce off the wall to cross the first run.

Sophie Jacquez was the first Ute batter to reach base off a dribbler back to the pitcher, but the team continued their slow start at the plate unable to move her into scoring position.

The bottom of the LMU order maintained their aggressive start finding their fourth hit of the contest. Katie Faulk secured the second out of the inning gunning an LMU runner trying to take second. The Lions then slapped their second hit down the right field line to put them in scoring position once again. Sandez flew out to end the inning and kept the Utes down just two.  

Stella Bennett collected the first hit for Utah with a shot down the left field line for a double. Haley Denning followed with a slap single to the right side to advance Bennett over to third. The play continued with some trickery from Denning drawing a pickle, which LMU played well, but ultimately advanced Denning to second off a throwing error by the pitcher and scored Bennett.

Belarde then grounded out and moved Denning over to third before Julia Jimenez took care of the rest barreling up a home run over the left center wall to put the Utes on top 3-2. Her fourth homer of the year and ninth of her career.

LMU responded in the bottom frame scoring one off a sacrifice fly and totaling seven hits through three.

The back and forth affair continued in the fourth as Utah started the inning with back-to-back singles from Destiny White and Halle Morris. A wild pitch then moved them into scoring position and Faulk hit a sacrifice fly to cross Militello, who pinch ran for White, and off another throwing error, advanced Morris to third. But the Utes were unable to convert as Denning followed with the last out.

Belarde started the big inning for Utah in the fifth with a single and Jimenez followed with a double off the left field wall, her second extra base hit of the contest. Jordyn Gasper lined a shot to right for the RBI and Jacquez reached base to load them up. Both Morris and Faulk didn't see their pitch at the plate and drew walks to score two more Utes and extend the lead 7-3. LMU added another off a home run to left in the bottom of the fifth and in the sixth, tied the game at seven after Sandez gave up three hits and a double to score three.

Utah went down in order in the seventh and Shi Smith took over in the circle in an attempt to send the game into extras. Smith brought the energy fanning the first two Lions before walking the following batter in an 11-pitch battle. She went the distance again against the next batter throwing seven pitches before popping her up to second on the eighth.  

In extras, the Utes elected to start Shelbi Ortiz at second with Faulk coming to the plate, who then drew her second walk of the game. Bennett laid down a beautiful bunt that rested directly on top of the third base line for the bunt single and loaded them up. Threatening in the top of the eighth, Utah couldn't drive in a run and the inning ended off a double play.

LMU walked it off in the bottom with a slapper to Denning who charged and made the tough play but the throw wasn't in time.

 Utah and LMU combined for 24 hits in the contest as Smith took her first loss of the year.

Game 2: Utes 2, LMU 3
The Utes put a crooked number on the board to start the second game as Belarde walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. Gasper get aboard off a catcher's interference and Jacquez knocked her 10th double of the season to bring two across the plate.

LMU responded hitting a single to left and driving a ball hard off the center field wall for a triple and cut the lead in half, 2-1.

Neither team scored for the next five innings as it was a pitching duel between Shi Smith and Jenna Perez. Smith garnered her second highest strike out total off the season with eight, the fourth time she's thrown five or more in nine appearances.

Utah threatened in the sixth from a Leilani Melendez single that moved Gasper to third and her to second on the throw. Espinosa and Faulk each stepped up to the plate with a chance to drive in some insurance runs but both went down in strikes.

The woes at the plate continued in the seventh as the Utes went down in order and brought up the Lions for their last at bats. On the second pitch of the inning, Smith hit the leadoff batter and set up for LMU to drop back-to-back sacrifice bunts and put a pair runners on second and third. The follow batter drove a double to center field scoring one and tying the ball game. LMU put the final touches on the contest with a sacrifice fly to right field to cross the run for the victory.

Up Next
Utah softball will have the next week off following their opening four weekend road preseason schedule. The Utes will be back on the diamond for a three-game set that will start with a double header against Wisconsin, March 15 at 2:00 and 4:40pm.

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