Utes Down Wildcats on Alumni Day, 5-1
SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball returned to Dumke Family Stadium on Saturday to face off against in-state opponent, Weber State, and was victorious on Alumni Day defeating the Wildcats 5-1.
Head coach Amy Hogue was honored on the field pre-game and threw out the honorary first pitch to former teammate Charmelle Green. Hogue was recognized for her legendary career as both a player and coach, becoming the all-time wins leader at Utah earlier this season and for her induction into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame last fall. The Utes sported new retro jerseys, the same ones Hogue wore during her playing days, as a tribute to coach A.
Shi Smith was given the nod to start and dominated in the circle today for Utah, throwing her third complete game of the season while striking out eight batters. Coming in clutch late, Utah scored five runs in the sixth-inning that led to a Utes victory. Utah now has a record of 16-6 when plating a run first and move to 17-13 overall on the season.
Final: Utah 5, Weber State 1
Pitching commanded the majority of this one as graduate transfer Smith started the game for the Utes, making her ninth start of the season. The Utes threatened early by way of a single by Haley Denning and immediately followed with Ellessa Bonstrom singling up the middle with both runners advancing on the throw to place Denning on third and Bonstrom on second. After a strikeout, Sophie Jacquez grounded out to second base to cross a run making the score, 1-0.
Smith was in control for the entirety of today's game, striking out the side in the second inning and never looking back. Utah went cold offensively from the second inning to the fifth, recording no hits with only one batter reaching base.
In the Wildcat fifth, Weber State tied the game up at 1-1 off a solo home run to left field, the only run allowed by Smith. The Wildcats would continue to rally with a hit-by-pitch and a single but Smith would end the inning with a strikeout, her seventh of the contest.
The Utes would explode in the sixth inning as all nine batters would step up to the plate in the frame. Denning placed an exceptional bunt to leadoff and later swiped second base to record her Pac-12 leading 15th stolen base. Next, Bonstrom worked a full-count walk to place runners on first and second. Julia Jimenez followed by roping a double to right field that would score both runners and mark her seventh double of the season, increasing Utah's lead to 3-1.
In the ensuing at-bat, Jimenez would advance to third on a passed ball and Jacquez would extend the lead by singling up the middle to pick up her second RBI of the game to make the score 4-1. AJ Militello pinch-ran for Jacquez and would steal second base to record her seventh stolen bag of the season. After back-to-back strikeouts, Halle Morris would come up clutch with a single up the middle to score Militello, extending the lead 5-1. Katie Faulk got in on the action to continue the Utah two-out rally with a shot through the left side but the Utes wouldn't be able to make any further progress.
Smith threw a perfect final frame while striking out her eighth batter of the game, slamming the door on the Wildcats and earn her fourth win of the season.
The Utes will now travel to Ogden tomorrow morning for the second game against the Wildcats. The first pitch is set to be thrown at 1:00pm MT and will be streamed live on ESPN+. Live stats will also be available for the game and fans can also keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.