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Softball Welcomes Wisconsin for Series Home Opener

Mar 14, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- After playing four consecutive weekends on the road, Utah softball is finally back for their home opener against the Wisconsin Badgers. The three-game slate will take place, March 15-16, at Dumke Family Softball Stadium which will be in action for its 10th season of being the home of the Utes. 
 
Utah enters the matchup with a 15-8 overall record, after dropping their last two games against LMU last Tuesday.

How to Follow
Fans can tune in live on the Pac-12 Networks for Tuesday's double-header against the Badgers. The single contest on Wednesday will be a live stream, provided by Utah Athletics, and can be seen here.

Live stats will be available for each game and fans can also keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter. 

Scouting Report: Wisconsin (12-7)

  • The Badgers traveled to Salt Lake City after playing five games in three days down in St. George at the Dixie State Tournament, where they had matchups against Maine, New Mexico, Southern Utah and host Dixie State. The Badgers finished the weekend with a 4-1 record and moved to 12-7 overall.
  • The offense features four batters hitting .318 or better and two batters that are flirting at the .300 clip with averages of .295 and .296. The badgers are led by Kayla Konwent, who owns a batting average of .396 and leads the team in hits (21) and runs batted in (13).
  • In the circle, Wisconsin is led by Maddie Schwartz who has a 2.25 ERA and has struck out 43 batters in 53.0 innings of work. She sports an 8-2 record and has only given up one home run this season, holding opponents to a .238 batting average.  
  • The pitching staff ranks inside the top-25 with a strike out-to-walk ratio of 4.06 (24th).

Last Time Out
Utah softball is coming off another winning weekend at the Judi Garman Classic before falling to LMU last Tuesday to close out their preseason road game schedule. At the Garman Classic, the Utes finished with a 4-1 record and picked up wins against Cal State Fullerton, Kansas, Penn and Seattle University.
 
Utah dropped its only contest to Texas A&M, who coming into the matchup, featured a top-20 team batting average (.337) led by Haley Lee with a .595 batting clip (third in the nation). The Aggies also owned one of the top pitching staffs in the country (seventh in ERA) and were led in the circle by Makinzy Herzog with 39 strike outs and a 0.23 ERA.  
 
Sophomore Sophie Jacquez had a spectacular weekend at the plate leading the team hitting five doubles. She finished the tournament finding eight hits, driving in five RBI and a .571 batting average. Senior Ellessa Bonstrom and junior Julia Jimenez followed behind batting .500 and .467, respectively, and both hitting two home runs. Bonstrom garnered a team leading nine RBI and Jimenez drove in seven RBI.
 
Jacquez, Bonstrom, Jimenez and junior Haley Denning paced the Utes offensively each with seven or more hits.
 
Catcher and "Super Senior", Katie Faulk, saw her best weekend at the plate (.333) hitting her first two homeruns of the season, with one coming in the clutch against Texas A&M to tie it up in the bottom of the fifth.

Sydney Sandez and Mariah Lopez led Utah in the circle. Sandez went 17.2 innings, striking out 15 and giving up just five runs. Lopez saw 9.1 innings of action and fanned 11, allowing four runs.
 
Utah's longest road trip of the season wrapped up at LMU on Tuesday with a double-header against the Lions. The first game was a back and forth affair with each team collecting double-digit hits. The Utes held a 7-4 lead entering the bottom of the sixth when LMU crossed three to knot it up heading into the seventh.
 
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.
 
In game two, Smith got the start in the circle and had one of her best outings of the season garnering her second highest strike out total of the year with eight. The Utes scored early in the first putting two on the board off of Jacquez's 10th double of the year to drive in the pair of runs.
 
The Lions responded with a run of their own in the bottom half and the scoring came to a halt as each team didn't score for the next five innings.
 
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 following 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.

Team Stat Leaders 

Batting Avg. Ellessa Bonstrom  .456
Slugging % Ellessa Bonstrom  .895
On Base % Ellessa Bonstrom  .566
Runs Scored Ellessa Bonstrom  22
Hits Denning/Bonstrom 26
RBI Ellessa Bonstrom 27
Doubles Sophie Jacquez 10
Home Runs Ellessa Bonstrom  6
Stolen Bases Haley Denning  13
ERA Sydney Sandez 2.01 (67.0 IP)

 

K's  Sydney Sandez  54

National Rankings - Individual 

  • Ellessa Bonstrom ranks inside the top-30 in slugging % nationally (28th, .895). 
  • Bonstrom ranks 41st in batting average (.456). 
  • Bonstrom also ranks 8th in RBI with 27 (3rd in the Pac-12). 
  • Bonstrom sits inside the top-30 (T-26th) in total bases with 51.  
  • Sophie Jacquez is T-2nd in the country with 10 doubles and is tied with UCLA's Savannah Pola for the top-spot in the conference. T-6th in the NCAA in doubles per game (0.50, 1st in Pac-12).   
  • Teammate Katie Faulk jumped into the national rankings and is T-5th with three sacrifice fly's (T-1st in the Pac-12).  
  • Haley Denning is 52nd in the NCAA with 0.22 sacrifice bunts per game (4th among Pac-12 players).
  • Denning is T-16th in the country with 13 stolen bases (top of the Pac-12) and is 46th in stolen bases per game (0.57), also leading the conference. 
  • Sandez has been spectacular in the circle ranking 8th in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio (13.50) and is 7th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.42). Leading all Pac-12 pitchers in that category.   
  • Sandez is 8th in the NCAA with 4 shutouts, second among Pac-12 players.

National Rankings - Team

  • Utah is third in the nation with 55 stolen bases. 
  • No. 8 in the country in stolen bases per game (2.39) and first in the Pac-12. 
  • T-5th in the NCAA with nine stolen bags in a single game. (2/13/22 vs. Cal Baptist). 
  • The Utes also rank 35th in fielding percentage (.974).
  • Utah is T-25th with a single-game high of 16 hits vs. Sacramento State (2/19/22).
  • Ranks 16th in strikeout-to-walk ration (4.70). 
  • Tied for 20th in shut outs with seven. 

A Graduate and a "Super Senior"
Kaite Faulk announced last spring the will return to Utah for her "Super Senior" season. Graduating with her degree in in kinesiology in May 2021, Faulk comes back as the primary catcher after starting 128 times at the position in her career. In 2021, she batted .202 with two doubles, four homeruns and 12 RBI. She also had four multi-hit games and a seven-game hitting streak.

Off the field, Faulk is a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic selection and in 2021 was named to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll. She has served with fellow Utah student-athletes on the Crimson Council years, including as President in 2020-21 after a term as Vice President the year before. Faulk has also led the organization's Mental Health sub-committee and continues to be part of the Wellness Ambassadors group, focusing on expanding the organization's "Unmuted" mental health campaign.  

Head Coach Amy Hogue | 15th Year ('94)
Amy Hogue is in her 15th season at the helm of her alma mater in 2022, and her 23rd season affiliated with the Utah softball program. Hogue, who was inducted into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020, has made an incredible impact on the program as a student-athlete (1991-1994), assistant coach (1996-1999) and head coach (2008-present). In 14 seasons as the head coach, Hogue has a 386-358-1 record and sports a 583-440-1 overall mark in 20 years as a collegiate head coach.

  • All-time wins leader at Utah
  • 2015 Pac-12 Coach of the Year
  • Led Utah to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths
  • Back-to-back Super Regionals (2016, 2017) for first time in program history.
  • Guided Utah to a 37-16 record in 2017, its best record since 1997.
  • Also had its best mark in the Pac-12 (13-9) since joining the conference in 2012.
  • Attained the program's highest NFCA final ranking at No. 14 in 2017.
  • Utah Athletics Department's 2014-15 Don Reddish Award recipient.
  • Set a program record in 2017 with five players on the NFCA All-Region teams and six earned postseason Pac-12 honors.
  • Coached the only 3x All-American in program history (Hannah Flippen), who was also named Pac-12 Player of the Year, the first since joining the conference and fifth in Utah softball history.

New Year, New Utes
A total of six newcomers join the Utes for the 2022 season. Two of them being freshman and four joining by way of transfer. Notable additions include graduate transfer Shi Smith, who brings a ton of experience to the pitching staff after spending four seasons at Seattle University. Smith currently holds Seattle U career records for strikeouts per seven innings (7.45) and opponent batting average (.231). She led the team with 31 appearances and was named first-team All-WAC in 2021 after posting an ERA of 3.24 and leading the team with 114 strikeouts.

Infielder Julia Jimenez is another impactful transfer from the Michigan program. Jimenez was named second-team All-Big Ten and started all 46 games for the Wolverines in 2021. She brings a hot bat to the plat as she tallied a season-long seven-game hit streak and posted career highs in all offensive categories, including a batting average of .293.

Class of the Pac-12
Since joining the Pac-12 back in 2012, the Utes have had at least three players given All-Pac-12 honors except for the 2018 and the shortened 2020 COVID pandemic seasons. A total of 33 athletes have been selected all-conference, including the last thirteen who have been named to either the first, second or third team. The latest being junior Haley Denning and senior Ellessa Bonstrom, both securing their first All-Pac-12 selections.

Denning was given second-team honors after her standout year in the field and in the batter's box. At the plate, she led the conference in hits (75), stolen bases (31) and nationally ranking fifth and 11th in those categories, respectively. She also garnered five triples to finish 15th in the country. Denning led the Utes in batting average (.391), runs (46), triples (5) and multi-hit games (23). The 31 bags she took were the most by a Utah player since 2001.

Bonstrom earned her third-team honors pacing the Utes in multiple offensive categories barreling 14 home runs, collecting 42 RBI and finishing with clips of .623 and .408 in slugging percentage and on-base percentage, respectively. She ended the season batting .268 with five doubles, a triple and scoring 37 runs.

NFCA Honors  
Haley Denning's post-season awards continued as she was named the 17th first-team all-region selection in program history and the first of her career. Denning was selected first-team NFCA All-Pacific Region after her all-conference performance throughout the 2021 season. Joining Denning as an all-region selection was Halle Morris.

Morris had a breakout season of her own during her sophomore campaign showcasing her versatility as a pitcher, infielder and clutch hitter. She was selected third-team in the Utility/Pitcher category and proved to be one of the team's swiss army knife and indispensable players. Morris saw action across the field playing at third, first, served as a DH and had 36 pitching appearances, the most of any Utah arm.

In the circle, Morris produced the lowest ERA among the pitchers (4.20) with 34 strike outs in 86.2 innings of work. She threw one complete game and had her best outing earning the win against 14th ranked ASU. At the plate, Morris had nine extra-base hits (four home runs, five doubles) and drove in 24 runs. She put together six multi-hit games and six muli-RBI performances.  

Set the Tone
The Utes set a new team single-game record in stolen bases with nine bags taken against Cal Baptist earlier this season on the final day of the Kajikawa Classic. Denning, Gasper, Cook, Militello, Gomez, Belarde and Bennett all joined the fun with at least one stolen base. Bennett and Gasper lead the charge on the base paths each taking two.  

A Classic 5-4-3 Triple Play
Utah is just one of two teams in the nation to have recorded a triple play, but the fashion that the Utes rolled the play is rare. George Washington University is the only other school with a triple play, but it came through the air as a 9-3-6 triple play. Against No. 1 Oklahoma, Utah kept the game within one run in the bottom of the fifth after issuing a ground ball right to third where Julia Jimenez fielded cleanly, stepped on the base and threw over to Belarde at second, then on to Bonstrom at first for the quickly turned triple play. 

It is believed to be the second triple play in program history, first on the ground and is the first in similar fashion since 2017 when Florida State executed one against Pitt on Aril 1st. 

Captains
Haley Denning
Destiny White
AJ Militello
Madi Jacobus

Follow the Utes
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