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Softball Starts Homestand With Weekend Series Against Cal

Apr 6, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball (18-16, 2-4) will start a five-game homestand on Friday, April 8th, as they welcome the California Golden Bears (21-15, 3-6) to Salt Lake City for the first time since 2019. Friday's game is slated to begin at 5:00pm MT with Saturday's contest set for 3:00pm MT and the series finale on Sunday will start at 12:00pm MT.
Since joining the conference of champions, the Utes and Golden Bears have faced off 27 times and Cal leads the series with 16 wins. Utah put together a five-game win streak from 2014-2015, which included a series sweep in the 2014 season at home.
Utah has dropped the last two against the Golden Bears and in their last meeting, the Utes held a 3-0 lead in the third but gave up four runs over the next two innings. Utah tied the game in the fifth off an Ellessa Bonstrom solo bomb, but the Utes were unable to keep Cal off the scoreboard as they pushed two across in the bottom of the sixth. The Utes were then sat down in order in the top of the seventh as the Golden Bears secured the series clinching win.
How to Follow
All games can be seen on the Pac-12 Network of channels and live results will also be available for the contests. 
Fans can keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.
For the Fans
We've got a weekend full of game promotions and themes for Utah softball fans.
Friday: Strike Out Child Abuse

  • We are excited to partner with Saprea, a non-profit organization out of Lehi, Utah, that aims to liberate individuals and society from child sexual abuse and its lasting impacts.
  • A table will be set up with representatives from the organization to answer any questions and provide more information.

Saturday: Egg Hunt.

  • Utah tote bags will be given away pregame. Arrive early for a better chance of securing one.
  • Put those new Utah tote bags into play as an egg scavenger hunt will take place once the game has concluded.

Sunday: Pride Game

  • The Sunday series finale will be our Pride game.
  • At the University of Utah, no matter who you are, you are welcome here and U can be U!

Scouting the Golden Bears (21-15, 3-6)

  • Cal is off to a solid start compiling a 21-15 overall record, but have picked up just three conference wins so far.
  • In their last conference series, the Golden Bears hosted Oregon State and were shutout in all three against the Beavers.
  • Cal is currently on a five-game losing streak entering the weekend.
  • The Golden Bear lineup sports a .292 batting average with 278 hits, 44 doubles, four triples, 41 home runs and 166 RBI.
  • In the Pac-12, those numbers rank 8th, 4th, 6th, T-7th, T-5th and 7th, respectively.
  • Four batters own averages above .316, with two hovering right under the .300 clip batting .296 and .292.
  • Tatum Anzaldo leads the charge at the plate, batting .408 with a team leading 51 hits and 27 runs scored. She's collected seven doubles, four homer runs and 20 RBI.
  • Sona Halajian leads the lineup with 11 homers and 33 RBI. She is second in batting on the team with a .366 clip.
  • Halajian also does a majority of the work in the circle for Cal, having made 22 appearances with 15 starts, owning a 13-4 record and has pitched the third most amount of innings in the conference (98.1). She has a 2.99 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 10 complete games, two shutouts, 87 strikeouts (9th in Pac-12), and holds opponents to a .246 batting average.
  • As a pitching staff, the Golden Bear arms combine for a 3.08 ERA. 1.42 WHIP, 19 complete games, three shutouts, 185 strikeouts, 17 homeruns and hold opposing lineups to a .251 average.
  • Cal has a fairly young pitching staff with two sophomores and two freshman.     

Last Time Out
The Utes were on the road this past weekend, visiting the Farm for a three-games series against Stanford and picked up a win. In game one, a grand slam from the Cardinal in the second inning is all the offense they needed as the Utes were only able to score two runs, both courtesy of Ellessa Bonstrom who earned an RBI single in the third and hit a deep solo home run in the sixth.

Sophomore lefty, Mariah Lopez, was given the loss after going six innings, allowing four runs on five hits, walking four batters and striking three.

Utah bounced back in a loud way on Saturday, taking the middle game of the series in a 11-2 run rule victory. The Utes posted their best offensive outing since 2019 with 17 hits to snap the seven-game skid against the Cardinal. Four Utah batters recorded a multi-hit game as all but two who had an at bat earned a hit. It was also the fourth time this season the Utes have scored 10 or more runs and the sixth run rule victory of the year.

Shi Smith started her 10th game in 14 appearances and had a strong outing, earning the win by only giving up two runs on five hits and striking out four Cardinal.  

The Utes dropped the rubber match against Stanford on Sunday afternoon, 1-0, and were shutout for just the second time this season. Four players picked up a hit in the game but were unable to drive in any runs. Jordyn Gasper stole her eighth base of the year to keep her perfect mark alive (8-8) and AJ Militello joined Gasper stealing her ninth of the season.

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.

Team Stat Leaders (as of 4/4/22)

Batting Avg. Ellessa Bonstrom  .470
Slugging % Ellessa Bonstrom  .892
On Base % Ellessa Bonstrom  .591
Runs Scored Ellessa Bonstrom  29
Hits Haley Denning 41
RBI Jullia Jimenez 33
Doubles Sophie Jacquez 11
Home Runs Ellessa Bonstrom  8
Stolen Bases Haley Denning  16
ERA Sydney Sandez 2.53 (91.1 IP)
K's  Sydney Sandez  72

Pac-12 Conference Individual Rankings (as of 4/5/22)

  • Bonstrom is tied for 2nd in batting average (.470) and is 5th in slugging % (.892). 
  • Bonstrom is tied 3rd in walks (21) and is T-2nd with eight hit by pitch.
  • Bonstrom sits in 3rd in on base % (.591) and is T-6th with nine doubles.
  • Bonstrom is 8th in total bases (74).  
  • Katie Faulk and Bonstrom tie for the lead in sacrifice flies, each with 3.
  • Jimenez is T-5th with 33 RBI and Bonstrom sits in 8th with 32.   
  • Jacquez is in a tie for 3rd with 11 doubles and is two shy for sharing the top spot.
  • Denning leads the conference in stolen bases with 16 and Militello and Bonstrom are T-5th, each with nine.
  • Denning has the most steal attempts with 18. Bonstrom is tied for 5th with 11.  
  • Denning ranks T-2nd in sacrifice bunts (6). Belarde is T-4th with 5. 
  • Denning is 7th in hits with 41.
  • Sandez is 8th with 25 batters struck out looking and is 6th in walks allowed with 7.
  • Smith rounds out the top 10 in walks allowed with 12.
  • Sandez is T-3rd in appearances (22) and is 5th with 91.1 innings pitched.
  • Morris is T-7th in games finished in the circle (7).
  • Morris is T-4th (11) and Sandez is T-6th (10) in games in relief.
  • Lopez ranks inside the top-10 (T-7th) in hits allowed giving up 44 and is T-6th with only five doubles allowed.
  • Jimenez is 4th in assists with 73. Belarde ranks 7th with 61. 
  • Belarde is T-1st in fielding double plays (10) and Jimenez is T-6th fielding six DP's.

Pac-12 Conference Team Rankings (as of 4/5/22)

  • Utah leads the conference in stolen bases with 68 and stolen bases per game (2.10).
    • Have converted 68 of 77 steal attempts.
  • 2nd in the league in sacrifice bunts (18). 
  • Tied for 2nd with UCLA, Oregon and Washington in sacrifice flies (11) and just one behind ASU for the top spot.  
  • 5th in hits (273) and batting average (.304).
  • T-5th in walks (82) and 4th with 24 hit by pitch.
  • One of the toughest teams to strikeout at the plate with the third lowest total of strikeouts as a team (135).
  • 5th in batters struck out (190) and walks allowed (48).
  • 2nd fewest total of wild pitches in the Pac-12 (5).
  • 4th in fielding assists (256). 
  • 3rd in putouts (662). 
  • T-2nd with Oregon in fielding double plays (11). 
  • 3rd in double plays per game (0.32).

Pac-12 Conference Team Game Highs (as of 4/5/22)

  • The Utes own the most sacrifice hits in a game with 4 in their matchup against Missouri State on 2/11/22.
  • Tied with Arizona State and Oregon with 3 sacrifice flies, took place in their game against Sacramento State on 2/29/22.
  • Utah and Oregon have each recorded a game with nine stolen bases. Utah's coming against Cal Baptist on 2/13/22.

National Rankings - Individual (as of 04/03/22)

  • Bonstrom ranks 19th in slugging % nationally (.892). 
  • Bonstrom ranks 10th in batting average (.470).
  • Bonstrom ranks 6th in on base % (.591).
  • Bonstrom is top-50 in the NCAA in RBI per game (1.00).
  • Bonstrom is 53rd in total bases with 74.   
  • Sophie Jacquez is T-24th in the country with 11 doubles. T-35th in the NCAA in doubles per game (0.35).
  • Jacquez has become one of the toughest to strikeout in the NCAA, ranking 49th.   
  • Teammate Katie Faulk and Bonstrom jumped into the national rankings T-29th with three sacrifice flies.
  • Denning is 63rd in sacrifice bunts per game with 0.18.
  • Denning is T-48th in the country with 16 stolen bases.
  • Sandez has been spectacular in the circle ranking 5th in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.29) and is 2nd in walks allowed per seven innings (0.54).
  • Sandez is T-26th in the NCAA with 4 shutouts, fourth among Pac-12 players.

National Rankings – Team (as of 04/03/22)

  • Utah is 16th in the nation with 68 stolen bases. 
  • 19th in the country in stolen bases per game (2.0).
  • Top-40 (40th) in country in batting average (.306).
  • T-6th in the NCAA with nine stolen bags in a single game. (2/13/22 vs. Cal Baptist).  
  • Utah is top-45 with a single-game high of 17 hits vs. Stanford (4/2/22).
  • Ranks 20th in strikeout-to-walk ration (3.96). 
  • Top-50 (48th) 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 currently on a new one at five-games. Aliya Belarde owns the second longest at the moment at four games. 

Utah has six batters with six or more multiple hit games. Again, Dennning and Bonstrom are atop of the list with Denning totaling 14 and Bonstrom with 12. Julia Jimenez and Bonstrom pace the Utes in multi RBI performances (9) and each has posted one game where they collected five RBI. 

Bonstrom is the team leader with 16 consecutive games of reaching base safely. Denning and Jimenez follow with a streak of 14 and 11 earlier this season, respectively.  

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

The other two 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 six games this year to put the other team away in run-rule fashion. The latest happening this previous weekend on the Farm against Stanford in an offensive explosion by the Utes, collecting the most hits this season (17) and since 2019 to give them the 11-2 win in five innings.
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 fourth and fifth 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.

Pac-12's Most Wanted
Utah has established themselves as the most dangerous team on the base paths in the conference, tallying 68 stolen bases. The Utes have four players with at least eight steals on the season (Denning, Bonstrom, Militello & Gasper). In comparison, the rest of the Pac-12 has just seven players with at least eight steals.

Haley Denning paces the conference with 16 steals in 18 attempts. Bonstrom and Militello follow in a tie for fifth, each with nine stolen bases. In a tie for ninth is Gasper with eight steals and is one of two players in the Pac-12 that has at least eight steals without being caught.

Hits Parade
The Utes posted their highest hit count of the season and since 2019 on Saturday against Stanford, finding 17 hits in the 11-2 run rule victory. This topping the previous of 16 back on 2/19/22 against Sacramento State and the most since March of 2019 at Arizona State when the Utes put up 18 on the Sun Devils.
Four Utah batters recorded a multi-hit game as all but two who had an at bat earned a hit. The Utes were led by Haley Denning (3-for-4, 3 runs score, 1 RBI), Jordyn Gasper (3-for-4, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI) and Julia Jimenez (3-for-3, 2 runs scored, 3 RBI and 1 HR). For Denning, this was her third 3-hit game of the season and 12th of her career while Gasper posted her second 3-hit performance of the year, second of her career. As for Jimenez, she entered into new territory recording her first 3-hit performance of the season and just the second of her career.

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 three teams in the nation to have recorded a triple play, but the fashion that the Utes rolled the play is rare. George Washington University and North Carolina are the only other schools with a triple play this season.

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 April 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 389-363-1 record and sports a 586-445-1 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

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