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Softball Wraps Up Four Game Road Swing at Weber State on Tuesday

Apr 18, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball (20-20, 4-8) will cap off their four game road swing against in-state foe, Weber State (30-8, 8-0), on Tuesday, April 19, in Ogden. The final game between the Utes and Wildcats this season is slated to begin at 5 p.m. MT at the Wildcat Softball Field.

How to Follow
Tuesday's contest can be seen on ESPN+ and live stats will also be available.
 
Fans can keep up with live game action and highlights by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.
 
Back in March 
Utah and Weber State faced off earlier this season for a home and away weekend series. The Utes hosted the Wildcats for game one and earned the 5-1 victory behind a dominant outing from pitcher Shi Smith, who threw her third complete game of the season while striking out eight batters.
 
In a tightly contested game, the Utes would explode in the sixth inning as all nine batters would step up to the plate in the frame and Julia Jimenez came in clutch, roping a double to right field that would score two runners and increase Utah's lead to 3-1.
 
In the ensuing at-bat, Sophie Jacquez extended the lead by singling up the middle and after back-to-back strikeouts, Halle Morris would drive in the final run of the game to give Utah the 5-1 advantage.
 
The script flipped on the road in Ogden for the second game, as the Utes scored three runs in the first but Weber State would answer immediately plating five to take the lead. Utah was held scoreless for the next five innings and the Wildcats would add four more in the bottom of the sixth off of a three-run homer and solo home run two batters later, extending their lead 9-3.
 
Utah's offense came back alive in their last at bats in the seventh with Aliya Belarde driving a double into center field followed by a Denning single to put runners on the corners. Bonstrom drew a walk to load the bases and Jacquez collected her second RBI of the day singling to right to bring in Belarde. Jordyn Gasper grounded into a fielder's choice to cross another run but a line out by the following batter would end the Utes' late inning comeback effort.

Scouting the Wildcats (30-8, 8-0)

  • Since the last time Utah faced off against Weber State earlier this season, the Wildcats have won eight of their last nine games. The only loss coming against Utah State.
  • Weber State sits atop of the Big Sky Conference, currently undefeated in conference play.
  • The Wildcats lead the Big Sky with a combined .295 batting average, 223 runs scored and 192 RBI. They have collected 300 hits, 44 doubles, 6 triples, 36 home runs on the season.
  • With at least 60 at bats, five Wildcats are hitting at a .300 clip or above.
  • Weber State is lead by Faith Hoe at the dish. She heads the conference in batting average (.385), triples (2) and ranks second in both on base % (.464) and sacrifice flies (3). Faith leads the team in runs scored (32), doubles (8) and is tied with teammate Chloe Camarero in RBI (27).
  • Weber State owns the best pitching staff in the conference with a 3.03 ERA, eight shutouts (four of those combined), 253 strikeouts, giving up the fewest runs (132), home runs (18) and holding opponents to a .245 average.
  • Arissa Henderson leads the charge in the circle, ranking second in ERA (2.09), earned runs allowed (29), doubles allowed (9) and runs allowed (34) in the Big Sky. Henderson is 11-1 on the season, starting in 18 of her 24 appearances and going the distance in seven of those starts. She leads the Wildcats in strikeouts (106) and opponent batting average (.231).

Last Time Out
The Utes traveled down to the Valley of the Sun for the second time this season to take on the red-hot Arizona State Sun Devils, who entered the weekend on a 17-game winning streak. Showing resiliency in games one and three after falling behind early in both, the Utes battled back to tie the game and eventually take the lead. But the Sun Devils couldn't be held off the scoreboard as Utah fell in both games, the first of which went into extra innings.

Team hits leader Haley Denning and Belarde led the Utes at the plate, each picking up four hits and batting .333 and .667, respectively. Denning also collected her Pac-12 leading 18th stolen base over the weekend.

Ellessa Bonstrom and Halle Morris each hit a pair of home runs against the Sun Devils. Both of Bonstrom's bombs were go-ahead home runs, putting the Utes in the lead after trailing early in the contests. Morris saw her first multi-home run game of her career, blasting a pair in the opening game of the series. Jimenez joined Bonstrom and Morris in the fifth-inning of game one as each hit a homer to tie the game after falling behind 5-0 in the first inning.

Game 1:
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 Morris who hit two home runs in the game.  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.

Smith took the loss as the starter, Mariah Lopezlasted 4.1 innings allowing five runs on seven hits and struck out four.

Game 2:
The Utes dropped the middle game to ASU on Friday night in a 12-2 run rule decision. Utah avoided being shut out in the top of the fifth-inning as Katie faulk launched her fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot, deep to left center.

Senior arm Sydney Sandez started the game for Utah in the circle and was replaced by Morris after throwing 2.2 innings, giving up nine runs on nine hits, two of those unearned and striking out one. CC Cook made her first appearance in the circle for the Utes this season to close out the game and picked up her first strikeout in the one inning she pitched.

Four Utes picked up a hit in the contest and Faulk lead the lineup scoring a run and collecting two RBI.

Game 3:
Utah fell to No. 13 ASU in the series finale on Saturday afternoon, 8-7. The Utes battled in similar fashion to game one, falling behind early but fighting back to tie and even take the lead. However, Utah couldn't keep the Sun Devils off the scoreboard as they completed the series sweep.

Smith made her 14th start of the season and was replaced by Morris in the first, after giving up a pair of home runs. Morris went 3.2 innings giving up five runs on five hits, three of which were earned, and was given the loss. Lopez relived Morris going 2.1 innings and kept ASU quite, not giving up a hit or run.

Belarde, Denning and Elicia Espinosa each had a multi-hit performance as Bonstrom and Belarde combined for four of the five team RBI.

Utah's offense came alive in the fourth, exploding for four runs to tie the ball game at four apiece. Espinosa got it started with a single through the right side and back-to-back singles from Belarde and Denning loaded the bases for Gasper. Putting the ball in play, Gasper reached safely on an error by the ASU second baseman to score two runs and Denning never slowed down catching the Sun Devils off guard to score from first and tie the game. Continuing Utah's big inning was Bonstrom who smashed her 10th home run to right field, a two-run shot that pushed the Utes out in front for the first time, 6-4. 

ASU immediately answered in their half of the fourth as defensive woes showed for the Utes, allowing the Sun Devils to score four runs on three hits and take the lead back, 8-6.

Lopez relieved Morris of her efforts on the mound and kept the ASU bats quite for the next two innings, giving the Utes a chance in the seventh to try and extend the ball game. But Utah went down in order in their last at bats to end the contest.

Team Stat Leaders (as of 4/18/22)

Batting Avg. Ellessa Bonstrom  .441
Slugging % Ellessa Bonstrom  .843
On Base % Ellessa Bonstrom  .558
Runs Scored Haley Denning 35
Hits Haley Denning 52
RBI Jimenez & Bonstrom 38
Doubles Sophie Jacquez 11
Home Runs Ellessa Bonstrom  10
Stolen Bases Haley Denning  18
ERA Sydney Sandez 2.59 (110.2 IP)
K's  Sydney Sandez  89

 
Pac-12 Conference Individual Rankings (as of 4/18/22)

  • Bonstrom is 4th in batting average (.441) and is 5th in slugging % (.843). 
  • Bonstrom is tied 4th in walks (24) and is 5th with eight hit by pitch.
  • Bonstrom sits in 3rd in on base % (.558) and is T-9th with nine doubles.
  • Bonstrom is 5th in total bases (86).  
  • Bonstrom leads the conference in sacrifice flies with 4 and Faulk is T-2nd with 3.
  • Both Jimenez and Bonstrom are T-5th with 38 RBI.
  • Jacquez is T-5th with 11 doubles and is two shy of sharing the top spot.
  • Denning leads the conference in stolen bases with 18 and Militello, Gasper and Bonstrom are T-6th, each with nine.
  • Denning has the most steal attempts with 21. Bonstrom is tied for 8th with 11.  
  • Belarde is T-2nd in sacrifice bunts with seven and Denning is T-4th with six.
  • Denning is T-4th in hits with 52.
  • Sandez is 4th with 32 batters struck out looking and is 5th in walks allowed with 10.
  • Sandez is T-9th with 89 strikeouts.
  • Sandez is T-2nd in appearances (26) and is 5th with 110.2 innings pitched.
  • Sandez is T-8th in games finished in the circle (8).
  • Morris is T-3rd (14) in games in relief and Sandez is T-5th with 12.
  • Lopez ranks T-9th in hits allowed giving up 51 and is T-5th with only six doubles allowed.
  • Jimenez is 5th in assists with 83. Belarde ranks 7th with 74. 
  • Belarde sits along in first in fielding double plays (11) and Jimenez is T-8th fielding six DP's.

Pac-12 Conference Team Rankings (as of 4/18/22)

  • Utah leads the conference in stolen bases with 72 and stolen bases per game (1.92).
    • Have converted 72 of 85 steal attempts.
  • 2nd in sacrifice bunts (21). 
  • Tied for 2nd with ASU in sacrifice flies (13) and just one behind Oregon for the top spot.  
  • 4th in hits (331) and 5th in batting average (.309).
  • 6th in walks (97) and 4th with 25 hit by pitch.
  • 7th in on base % (.373).
  • One of the toughest teams to strikeout at the plate sitting in a tie with Oregon for the lowest total of strikeouts as a team (148).
  • The only team in the Pac-12 to have avoided grounding into double plays, hitting into just one on the season.
  • 5th in batters struck out (222) and batters struck out looking (63).
  • 5th in walks allowed (64).
  • Tied with Stanford for the fewest total of wild pitches in the Pac-12 (6).
  • 4th in fielding assists (303). 
  • 3rd in putouts (781). 
  • T-2nd with ASU in fielding double plays (12). 

Pac-12 Conference Team Game Highs (as of 4/18/22)

  • The Utes own the most sacrifice hits in a game with 4 in their matchup against Missouri State on 2/11/22.
  • Tied with three other conference foes 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.
  • Utah and California's opening game on Friday, April 8, saw the most at bats (72), hits (29) and doubles (6) between both teams in a game this year.

National Rankings - Individual (as of 04/18/22)

  • Bonstrom ranks 24th in slugging % nationally (.843). 
  • Bonstrom ranks 16th in batting average (.441).
  • Bonstrom ranks 16th in on base % (.558).
  • Bonstrom is 57th in total bases with 86.  
  • Bonstrom has climbed the national rankings and is now 11th in sacrifice flies with four. Faulk ranks 55th with three.
  • Bonstrom is 51st in RBI per game (1.00).
  • Jacquez is 75th in the NCAA in doubles per game (0.30).
  • Jacquez and Jimenez have become one of the toughest to strikeout in the NCAA, both ranked in the top-40. Jacquez is 19th and Jimenez is 37th.     
  • Denning ranks 53rd nationally in hits (52).
  • Denning is 53rd in the country with 18 stolen bases.
  • Belarde is 55th in the NCAA in sacrifice bunts per game (0.17)
  • Sandez has been spectacular in the circle ranking 8th in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio (8.90) and is 4th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.63).

National Rankings – Team (as of 04/18/22)

  • Utah is 22nd in the nation with 72 stolen bases. 
  • 25th in the country in stolen bases per game (1.80).
  • Top-35 (34th) in country in batting average (.309).
  • T-7th in the NCAA with nine stolen bags in a single game. (2/13/22 vs. Cal Baptist).  
  • Utah is top-50 with a single-game high of 17 hits vs. Stanford (4/2/22).
  • Ranks 27th in strikeout-to-walk ration (3.47). 
  • Top-70 (68th) in shut outs with seven. 

Ute Streaks
Five Utes have strung together a hitting streak of six or more this season. Bonstrom owns the longest and is currently on an 11-game streak. Denning follows with the second longest at nine and is currently on a six-game streak of her own.

Utah has six batters with 10 or more multiple hit games. Denning is atop the list totaling 17 as Jimenez follows with 13 and Bonstrom with 12. Bonstrom paces the Utes in multi RBI performances with 11 and Jimenez is second with 10. Both have posted one game where they've collected five RBI. 

Bonstrom is the team leader and has reached safely in 22 consecutive games. Denning and Jimenez follow with a streak of 14 and 11 earlier this season, respectively.

Shutouts
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 72 stolen bases. The Utes have four players with at least nine steals on the season (Denning, Bonstrom, Militello & Gasper). In comparison, the rest of the Pac-12 has just 13 players with at least nine steals.

Haley Denning paces the conference with 18 steals in 21 attempts. Bonstrom, Gasper and Militello follow in a tie for sixth, each with nine stolen bases. Gasper 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 391-367-1 record and sports a 588-449-1 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.  

Captains
Haley Denning
Destiny White
AJ Militello
Madi Jacobus

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