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Utes Welcome Wildcats, Set to Honor Coach A on Alumni Day

Mar 23, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah Softball is back in action this weekend with a home and away series against the Weber State Wildcats on Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27. The Utes will host the Wildcats for Alumni Day on Saturday with the contest slated to begin at 3:00pm MT at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium. The team will then take a short bus ride up to Ogden on Sunday for the second and final game versus the Wildcats with first pitch set to be thrown at 1:00pm MT.
Dating back to the 2010 season, the Utes have been dominant over the Wildcats taking 15 of the 18 games the two have played. At home, Utah owns a 7-2 record and is 7-1 when playing in Ogden. In latest meeting on May 4th of last season, the Utes shutout WSU, 8-0, in a five-inning run rule.

Alumni Day & Pre-Game Festivities: Recognizing Head Coach Amy Hogue
Prior to the start of the game on Saturday, head coach Amy Hogue will be honored for her induction last fall into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2020 and her latest achievement of becoming the all-time wins leader at Utah, earlier this season. Coach A will throw out the first pitch to former teammate and current Deputy Athletics Director Charmelle Green, a two-time All-American at Utah. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the recognition that is scheduled to begin at 2:55pm MT.

Utah softball t-shirts is the giveaway of the game and will be available while supplies last. Arrive early for a better chance of securing a t-shirt. Alumni of the Utah softball program in attendance will be recognized at the end of the fourth-inning.

How to Follow
Fans can watch the first game via live stream, which will be provided by Utah Athletics. Game two can be seen on ESPN+. Live stats will also be available for each game and fans can also keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.

Scouting the Wildcats (21-6)

  • The reigning regular season Big Sky champion Wildcats are off to a great start, owning a 21-6 overall record and sitting atop the Big Sky conference.
  • In their five non-conference tournaments, Weber State has left with a winning record in all of them – including a 4-0 record at the UNLV Tournament and a 5-0 record at the Dixie State Tournament.
  • Three of their 20 wins have been earned in run rule fashion.
  • Notable wins during their non-conference slate include Kansas, Texas A&M, San Diego State and UNLV.
  • At the plate, Weber State is batting a combined .274 with 199 hits and 21 home runs. Three Wildcats have a batting average over .300, led by Faith Hoe who sports .380 clip with a team leading 31 hits, five doubles and two triples. Chloe Camarero leads WSU with 19 runs batted in and eight homers.
  • In the circle, Arissa Henderson is 8-0 on the year with a 1.53 ERA in 73.1 innings pitched. She has struck out a team leading 81 batters, has thrown six complete games and holds opponents to a .219 batting average.
  • Mariah Ramirez has made the most appearances (18) with 64.1 innings pitched, 71 strike outs and a 3.59 ERA.
  • As a staff, the Wildcats have a combined 2.61 ERA, 21-6 record, own an opponent batting average of .235 and have thrown 9 complete games including five shutouts, their latest coming against Utah Valley University on Tuesday.

Last Time Out
Utah opened up conference play last Friday and Saturday, hosting the 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks. Shi Smith was given the ball in the circle to start the series and pitched a gem, throwing a complete game, striking out six batters and allowing just one run in the 5-2 victory. Haley Denning and Julia Jimenez led the Utes at the plate both going 2-3 as Denning scored a run and Jimenez hit a double to right field to bring one in.

Katie Faulk laid down a great bunt to score AJ Militello from third and Jordyn Gasper had a big time at bat driving a single to left field to score two and extend the lead, 4-1 Utah in the third.

An Ellessa Bonstrom sacrifice fly in the fifth would put the finishing touches on the opening game to give Utah the 5-2 advantage as Smith would enter the circle in the seventh and retire the side for the win.

Due to weather, a doubleheader was played on Saturday to wrap up the three-game set and the Utes fell in both to drop the opening conference series. Smith was given the nod again to start the second game against the Ducks.

Fielding errors on both sides would show throughout the first two innings of the middle game, but the Utes would strike first off an RBI shot to center by Sophie Jacquez. Oregon immediately responded in the fourth off a lead-off double and a pinch-hit triple to tie the game. A bunt single would bring one more across and put the Ducks on top for the first time in the series, 2-1.

Oregon would plate two more in the fifth before Faulk blasted her third home run of the year to bring Utah within two. But the Oregon offense was just getting started responding again in the sixth with a run and again in the seventh with a pinch-hit homer that would put the game out of reach for the Utes.

Smith took the loss on the mound, going 4.1 innings and giving up four runs. Sydney Sandez and Halle Morris made appearances to close the game.

Lefty Mariah Lopez made her first appearance against Oregon starting the third game. The Duck offense was still hot from the game before quickly hitting a home run to take the lead. But the Utes would respond with an offensive explosion in the bottom frame with two outs.

Jacquez began the rally with a single up the middle and Jimenez followed ripping a double into the gap to cross Jacquez and tie it up. In the ensuing at-bat, Gasper pulled a line drive into the outfield for her first RBI triple of the year and put Utah on top, 2-1. Destiny White would follow and launch a home run to left field that hit the top of the score board and cap off a four-run first.

Oregon would then hit a two-run homer to close the lead, 4-3. Despite the momentum shift, Denning roped a double into right field to drive in a run and the Utes continued to threaten in the inning by loading the bases. Jimenez would lift a fly ball to the outfield to score Denning extend the lead, 6-3.

It was a pitching duel in the middle innings until Oregon scored four runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead, 7-6. In their final at bats, the Utes threatened in the last half of the seventh as Denning started the inning with a double and Bonstrom worked another four-pitch walk. However, the next three batters would be retired to end the game. 

Team Stat Leaders (as of 03/17/22)

Batting Avg. Ellessa Bonstrom  .465
Slugging % Ellessa Bonstrom  .859
On Base % Ellessa Bonstrom  .577
Runs Scored Ellessa Bonstrom  25
Hits Denning/Bonstrom 33
RBI Ellessa Bonstrom 29
Doubles Sophie Jacquez 10
Home Runs Ellessa Bonstrom  6
Stolen Bases Haley Denning  13
ERA Sydney Sandez 3.04 (83.0 IP)
K's  Sydney Sandez  67

National Rankings - Individual 

  • Ellessa Bonstrom ranks 28th in slugging % nationally (.859). 
  • Bonstrom ranks 16th in batting average (.465) and second in the Pac-12 in that category.  
  • Bonstrom also ranks 29th in RBI with 28 (4th in the Pac-12).
  • Bonstrom ranks 13th in on base % (.577), second in the Pac-12.
  • Bonstrom is T-40th in total bases with 61.  
  • Sophie Jacquez is T-13th in the country with 10 doubles and is second in the Pac-12. T-31st in the NCAA in doubles per game (0.38, 2nd in Pac-12).  
  • Julia Jimenez is one of the toughest to strike out at the plate ranking 50th in the NCAA and 5th in that metric in the conference. 
  • Teammate Katie Faulk and Bonstrom jumped into the national rankings T-16th with three sacrifice fly's (T-1st in the Pac-12).  
  • Haley Denning is T-49th in the NCAA with 0.21 sacrifice bunts per game (2nd among Pac-12 players).
  • Denning is T-45th in the country with 13 stolen bases (top of the Pac-12) and leads the conference in stolen bases per game (0.45).
  • Sandez has been spectacular in the circle ranking T-13th in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.57) and is 8th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.59). 3rd in the Pac-12 in that category.   
  • Sandez is T-16th in the NCAA with 5 shutouts, second among Pac-12 players.

National Rankings - Team

  • Utah is 13th in the nation with 58 stolen bases. 
  • T-18th in the country in stolen bases per game (2.00) and first in the Pac-12. 
  • T-6th in the NCAA with nine stolen bags in a single game. (2/13/22 vs. Cal Baptist). 
  • The Utes also rank 63rd in fielding percentage (.969).  
  • Utah is top-30 with a single-game high of 16 hits vs. Sacramento State (2/19/22).
  • Ranks 16th in strikeout-to-walk ration (4.54). 
  • Tied for 30th in shut outs with seven. 

Ute Streaks
Five Utes have strung together a hitting streak of six or more this season. Bonstrom and Denning own the longest at nine games with Bonstrom's coming to an end at nine this past weekend.

Utah has six batters with six or more multiple hit games. Bonstrom and Denning lead the way with 11. Bonstrom also leads with eight multi-RBI games as Julia Jimenez follows in multi-RBI performances with seven.

Denning is the team leader with 14 consecutive games of reaching base safely. Bonstrom and Jimenez follow with a streak of 11 earlier this season and Bonstrom has tied her longest of the year currently on an 11-game streak.

Jacquez follows with the third longest of the season reaching base safely in 10 games.   

The Utah pitching staff has thrown seven shutouts this season, five of them belonging to Sydney Sandez. Sandez's shutouts have come against Missouri State (4-0), Sacramento State (13-0), San Diego (5-0), UC Davis (8-0) and Seattle University (9-0).

The other two were combined shutouts and both took place on the same day at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Shi Smith got the start in the first game against San Diego, holding it down for 5.1 innings and striking out five before Sandez entered to close the deal, 3-0. The following game, Lopez started in the circle against UC Riverside throwing four innings and allowing two hits while fanning six. Halle Morris entered in the final inning retiring all three batters to give Utah their fifth shutout of the year.

Runs Rule
The Utah offense came out firing in five games this year to put the other team away in run-rule fashion. The Utes secured their first run rule against Cal Baptist at the Kajikawa Classic scoring 11 runs in the first four innings with a couple home run contributions from Bonstrom and White.

Utah's second came against UC Riverside as they were able to score six runs in the bottom of the first. Bonstrom got the fun started blasting a three-run homer to left center as Kendall Lundberg and Elicia Espinosa also hit home runs, the first of Lundberg's collegiate career and Espinosa's second of the season.

A day later the Utes put eight on the board in the first six innings of play against UC Riverside as the pitching staff took care of the Riverside batters throwing a shutout to end the game in six.

The last two shutouts happened on the final day of the Judi Garman Classic as Utah was able to put away Penn and Seattle U in five innings. The Utes put up an eight spot in the fifth innings against Penn to put the game way out of reach and scored four in the first and at least one in the following four innings to capture the 9-0 victory over Seattle.

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. 

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 387-360-1 record and sports a 584-442-1 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.  

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.  

Haley Denning
Destiny White
AJ Militello
Madi Jacobus