Softballs Falls in Extra Inning Heartbreak Against No. 13 ASU Thursday Night
TEMPE, Ariz.- Taking on one of the hottest teams in the country, Utah softball (20-18, 4-6) fell to the 13th-ranked ASU Sun Devils (29-5, 10-0) on Thursday night in extra innings, 10-9.
The Sun Devil offense struck first off a single and error by the Ute defense to score the first run of the game and a grand slam two batters later put ASU on top early, 5-0. Utah went on to score eight unanswered runs between the fourth and fifth innings and was led by Halle Morris who hit two home runs in the game, her first multi-home run performance of her career. ASU tied it up in the sixth scoring three runs and after the Utes plated one in extra innings, the Sun Devils loaded the bases for the newly named Pac-12 Player of the week, Jazmin Hill, to step into the box and send a single into right field to cross two for the walk-off win.
Five Utes had a multi-hit performance while Morris led the team collecting four RBI and Bonstrom was right behind with three, her 10th multi-RBI game of the year.
Shi Smith took the loss as the starter, Mariah Lopez, lasted 4.1 innings allowing five runs on seven hits and struck out four.
Final: Sun Devils 10, Utes 9
The southpaw, Lopez, was given the starting nod and after a quick first inning by the Utes at the plate, the ASU offense started off quickly with a walk and a single that would induce an error by the Ute defense and allow the lead runner to score. Shortly after, another walk was drawn by the Sun Devils to load the bases and set up the ensuing batter to hit a grand slam and extend the ASU lead, 5-0.
Utah was quite during their at bats in the second and Lopez started to settle in to the game, allowing a double but struck out the last Sun Devil to leave two runners on the base paths.
The Utes threatened in the top half of the third after a pair of walks by Katie Faulk and Destiny White. AJ Militello and Shelbi Ortiz entered as pinch runners for the two and were moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt by Aliya Belarde. However, Utah couldn't put any runs on the board leaving the runners stranded.
ASU was retired in order to end the third and after two singles to start the fourth from Julia Jimenez and Sophie Jacquez, Morris crushed her first home run of the year over the left field wall to cut into the Sun Devil lead, 5-3.
Lopez gave up a single in the fourth but sat down the following three batters, picking up her fourth strikeout of the game in the process.
The Utah bats caught fire in the fifth, hitting three home runs in the inning. Belarde found her first hit to start the frame followed by the leadoff, Haley Denning, who reached safely to move Belarde over to third. Jordyn Gasper then flied out to right and Denning tagged from first to advance to second. Already hitting three home runs at Farrington Stadium earlier this season, Bonstrom stepped into the box and crushed her ninth homer over the right field wall to put the Utes on top, 6-5.
Jimenez continued the fun, matching Bonstrom with a deep fly of her own to left and after a pop up by Jacquez, Morris launched her second homer of the game for the third home run of the inning and extended the Utah lead 8-5.
Morris replaced Lopez in the circle in the fifth and struck out and flied the final two batters to keep the Sun Devil bats quiet. The ASU offense found some life in the sixth, tying the ball game off three hits which included hitting their second home run of the game.
The Utes left one runner on base in the top of the seventh and left the door open for the Sun Devils to walk-it off at home. In a huge spot, Morris hit the first ASU batters but followed issuing a 4-6-3 double play and another ground out to end regulation and send the game into extra innings.
In the eighth, Denning started a two-out rally with a single and put herself in scoring position stealing her Pac-12 leading 18th bag of the year. The ensuing batter, Gasper, picked up her second hit of the game to score Denning and push the Utes in front, 9-8.
ASU started their half of the eighth with a double and that ended the night for Morris, as Shi Smith came into the circle. Flying and fouling out the next two batters, Utah was one out away from upsetting the 13th-ranked team in the country. But the Sun Devils stayed disciplined at the plate and drew two walks to load the bases and bring up the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, Jazmin Hill. Down 0-2 in the count, Hill singled into right field and crossed two runs for the walk-off win at home and take the opening game of the series.
Utah returns to the diamond for the second game against the Sun Devils tomorrow at 7 p.m. MDT. The game can be seen via live stream provided by ASU Athletics.
Live results will also be available for the contest and fans can keep up with live game action and highlights by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.
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