Softball Drops Rubber Match Against Stanford, 1-0
STANFORD, Calif- Utah softball dropped the rubber match against Stanford on Sunday afternoon, 1-0, being shutout for just the second time this season after putting up their best offensive game since 2019 on Saturday.
Jordyn Gasper, Ellessa Bonstrom, Halle Morris and Aliya Belarde all recorded a hit on the afternoon as Gasper stole her eighth base of the year to keep her perfect mark alive. AJ Militello joined Gasper stealing her ninth of the season but both were left stranded.
Shi Smith started her second consecutive game of the weekend and looked strong through the first three innings not giving up a hit. Stanford chased Smith out of the game in the fourth after back-to-back singles and the only run of the game scored later in the inning, giving Smith her fourth loss of the year.
The Utes fall to 2-4 in conference play and 18-16 overall.
"I'm very proud of the effort the team showed all weekend. We fell short in winning the series, but I felt them competing the entire time," head coach Amy Hogue said. "Our pitching was a highlight and we only had one bad inning in the circle this weekend. There are a lot of positives to take away from the past three days and we need to build upon those and find a way to win a bunch of games this next week."
Final: Cardinal 1, Utes 0
Bonstrom extended her hitting streak to five games in the first inning with a two out double into right field. Julia Jimenez followed and was patient at the plate, not seeing her pitch and drawing a walk to move Bonstrom into scoring position. Sophie Jacquez was next but was unable to drive in Bonstrom, dribbling a ball back to the pitcher to end the first frame.
Coming off a win, Smith carried the momentum and energy over from yesterday sitting down the Cardinal in order to start the game.
Morris picked up her second hit of the weekend dropping one into shallow right field. Militello entered as a pinch runner for Morris and a few pitches later, stole her ninth bag of the year with one out to move into scoring position. However, Utah was unable to convert as two ground outs followed to keep the game scoreless.
In the Cardinal half of the second, Smith got into a little bit of trouble walking two batters in the inning but was able to regain control issuing a foul out behind the plat to Katie Faulk and a ground out to Jimenez at third to close the inning.
Stanford threatened in the third inning, drawing the third walk of the afternoon from Smith but the second fielder's choice of the game for the Cardinal would get the lead runner out at second. They then had a successful stolen base attempt and advanced to third off an errant throw from Faulk down to second. Smith closed the door lining out the ensuing batter to Belarde for the final out.
Through three innings of work, Smith had yet to surrender a hit, but Stanford found back-to-back singles in the fourth and ended Smiths day. Sydney Sandez took over in the circle and flied out the first batter she faced. The following Cardinal singled to left field to load the bases with one out and a pinch hit ground out to second would break the deadlock and score the first run of the ball game. Sandez bounced back to fly out the next batter and bring the Utes up to the plate.
Utah's offense couldn't get anything going over the next three innings, finding just one hit that came in the seventh from Belarde in their last chance at bats. Looking for some late innings heroics from the top of the lineup, Denning grounded into a fielder's choice and Gasper popped out to the short stop. Down to Utah's final out, Bonstrom was the batter the Utes wanted to see at the plate, already hitting a double in the game and a home run earlier this series. Battling with the pitcher, Bonstrom watched an off-speed pitch cross the plate for the third strike and end the game.
- The Utes have four players with at least eight steals on the season (Denning, Bonstrom, Militello and Gasper).
- In comparison, the rest of the Pac-12 has just seven players with at least eight steals.
- Gasper is one of two players in the conference that has at least eight steals without being caught. The only other player is KK Humphreys of the Oregon Ducks.
The Utes will be back at home on Tuesday, April 5th, for a matchup against in-state rival BYU. The game is slated to begin at 5:00pm MT and can be seen via live stream provided by Utah Athletics.
Live stats will be available and fans can also keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.