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Softball Welcomes No. 24 Arizona Over the Weekend, Faces off Against UVU on Monday

Apr 21, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball (21-20, 4-8) returns home to Dumke Family Softball Stadium this weekend for a conference matchup against No. 24 Arizona (25-15, 4-11) Friday-Sunday, April 22-24. The opening game on Friday is slated to begin at 5 p.m. MT with the second game starting at 2 p.m. MT on Saturday and the series finale on Sunday will begin at 12 p.m. MT.
In Pac-12 play, Arizona leads the series 22-6 and has won the last 10 matchups against Utah. The Utes will look to pick up their second conference series win of the year and the first against Arizona since 2017 when they took two of three from the Wildcats in Salt Lake City.
The Utes will also be in action on Monday, April 25, against the Utah Valley Wolverines. First pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 5 p.m. MT.
Since 2004, the Utes have faced off against the Wolverines 32 times and lead the series 28-4. After the 2014 season where Utah swept the season series, the two didn't face off again until 2019 as UVU picked up the 5-2 victory on the road. The Wolverines first win against Utah since 2013.

In their latest matchup, the Utes took both games of the doubleheader in 2021 including a run rule victory in six innings. Sydney Sandez and Mariah Lopez picked up the wins in the circle as Haley Denning had a strong day at the plate going 4-7, driving in and scoring two runs and stealing two bases. 

For the Fans
We've got a weekend full of game promotions and themes for Utah softball fans!
Friday: Breast Cancer Awareness

  • We are excited to partner with Swing for Life, a local non-profit organization that's "Taking a bat to breast cancer one swing at a time."
  • A table will be set up on the concourse with representatives from the organization to answer any questions, provide more information and raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
  • Pink Utah bracelets will be the giveaway of the game.

Saturday: Bark in the park

  • There aren't many better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than at the ballpark with your dog(s)!
  • Dog bandanas will be the giveaway of the game. Water and waste bags will also be available at a table on the way to the outfield berm.

How to Follow
All three games against the Arizona Wildcats will be televised on Pac-12 Networks. Friday's game will be on the flagship station, Saturday's game will be aired on Pac-12 Arizona and the series finale will be on Pac-12 Mountain.
Monday's matchup against the Wolverines can be seen via live stream provided by Utah Athletics.
Fans can keep up with live game action and highlights by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.
Scouting the Wildcats (25-15, 4-11)

  • The Arizona Wildcats started the 2022 season strong with a 21-4 record, but since entering conference play the Wildcats have gone just 4-11 and currently reside at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.
  • Starting Pac-12 play with an eight-game losing streak, Arizona picked up their first conference win against No. 11 Washington and picked up their first series win against No. 17 Oregon on the road in a run rule decision on Sunday's rubber game.
  • The Wildcats added a couple to the win column on Tuesday with a double header against the UTEP Miners, winning both games in run rule fashion.
  • Although Arizona hasn't been the best as of last, their offense has been strong ranking second in batting average (.332) home runs (61), runs scored (258) and slugging % (.575). They also come in ranked third in both on base % (.408) and RBI (243).
  • The Wildcats are in the middle of the conference in walks (114), sac bunts (17), sac flies (12), hits (329), triples (7), and strikeouts (190).
  • Arizona's lineup features eight batters with a .300 or above batting average and is led at the plate by Jasmin Perezchica who is batting .440 and leads the team in hits (55), runs scored (39) and on base % (.478).
  • In the circle, the Arizona arms combine for a 3.96 ERA, 11 complete games, seven shutouts (four combined), 168 strikeouts, 46 doubles, five triples and 51 home runs. They have given up 252 hits, 16 runs (136 earned) and hold opponents to a .264 batting average.
  • The Wildcats pitching staff sees a normal rotation between three arms and is headed by Devyn Netz who has a .368 ERA. Netz is 11-5 on the season and has thrown four complete games and one shutout (3 combined). She's tallied 59 strikeouts and holds opponents to a .249 clip in her 85.2 innings pitched this season.

Scouting the Wolverines (16-18, 7-8)

  • First year head coach and long-time former assistant at Utah, Cody Thomson, has guided UVU to a 16-18 overall record and a 7-8 start in conference play.
  • The Wolverines were downed in their last matchup against cross-town rival BYU, 2-0, on Wednesday. Prior to the loss, UVU picked up their first conference series win sweeping California Baptist and looks to capture another series this weekend as they host Dixie State.
  • Six batters in the UVU lineup own a batting average above .300, two of whom rank in the top-5 of the WAC in that category.
  • The UVU offense combines for a .313 batting average, 293 hits, 48 doubles, two triples, 30 home runs, and 172 RBI.
  • They are led at the dish by Madison Carr who is batting .426 (1st in WAC) with 52 hits (2nd in WAC) and 31 runs scored (T-6th). She leads the team in on-base % (.470) and has swiped 15 bases on the year (3rd in WAC).
  • Mikaela Thomson leads the lineup in extra base hits with nine doubles and nine home runs.
  • In the circle, the Wolverine Pitching Staff combines for a 6.36 ERA, 12 complete games and two shutouts. They have allowed 234 runs (197 earned), 44 homers and collected 161 strikeouts in 216.2 innings pitched.
  • Katie Zuniga heads the Wolverines with a 5.38 ERA and throwing six complete games. Brooke Carter is 8-7 on the year with a 5.95 ERA and has a 1.56 WHIP. Carter leads the staff with 94 strikeouts.

Last Time Out
The Utes capped off a four-game road swing against the Big Sky leading Weber State Wildcats in Ogden for the final meeting between the two. Utah left victorious with a 6-2 win over the Wildcats on a rainy afternoon. This ended the Utes' three-game skid and snapped the Wildcats eight-game winning streak as Utah claimed the season series.

Shi Smith made her 15th start of the year and spun a gem on the way to her sixth win, throwing her fifth complete game allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out eight batters and walking none. This marked the fourth time this season that she has struck out eight or more batters during her appearance.

At the plate, four Utes picked up a hit and were led by Jordyn Gasper who went 2-2 with an RBI and a walk. Julia Jimenez was responsible for three of the six runs scored, tallying three RBI for her 11th multi-RBI performance.

Tied up until the third inning, the Utes broke the deadlock scoring three runs on two hits. Denning got the ball rolling legging out a bunt to pick up the first hit of the ball game. Both Belarde and Bonstrom followed drawing walks and Jimenez took care of the rest, reaching safely off another error by the Wildcat short stop to drive in Denning and Belarde. Jimenez then stole her fourth base of the year and Gasper slapped a single up the middle to score Bonstrom and put the Utes out in front, 3-0.

As the rain started to fall, the Wildcats offense came alive plating two runs off four hits in the bottom of the sixth. Bonstrom saved a run herself, making an over the shoulder grab near the left-center warning track to hold the runner at second for the second out. A line drive to Belarde would end the frame and keep the Utes out in front, 3-2.

The Utes scored three more runs off three hits in the top of the seventh, giving them the 6-2 advantage. Jimenez picked up her second and third RBI of the afternoon off a single through the right side and Jacquez added the final insurance run sending a shot back up the middle to plate Jimenez from third.

Smith closed the door on the Wildcats in the seventh, striking out her seventh and eighth batters of the ball game en route to her fifth 1-2-3 inning of the contest. 

Team Stat Leaders (as of 4/21/22)

Batting Avg. Ellessa Bonstrom  .433
Slugging % Ellessa Bonstrom  .827
On Base % Ellessa Bonstrom  .556
Runs Scored Haley Denning 36
Hits Haley Denning 53
RBI Julia Jimenez 41
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 and is 5th in slugging %. 
  • Bonstrom is tied 4th in walks and is 5th with eight hit by pitch.
  • Bonstrom sits in 3rd in on base % 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 in 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. 
  • 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 alone 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 74 and stolen bases per game (1.92).
    • Have converted 74 of 88 steal attempts.
  • 2nd in sacrifice bunts (22). 
  • Tied for 2nd with ASU in sacrifice flies (13) and just one behind Oregon for the top spot.  
  • 4th in hits (336) and 5th in batting average (.307).
  • 6th in walks and 4th with 25 hit by pitch.
  • 7th in on base % (.376).
  • 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 (151).
  • 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 (307). 
  • 3rd in putouts (802). 
  • 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 04/20/22)

  • Bonstrom ranks 27th in slugging % nationally (.827). 
  • Bonstrom ranks 23rd in batting average (.433).
  • Bonstrom ranks 17th in on base % (.556).
  • Bonstrom is 70th in total bases with 86.  
  • Bonstrom has climbed the national rankings and is now 13th in sacrifice flies with four. Faulk ranks 57th with three.
  • Jimenez is 61st in RBI per game (0.98) and Bonstrom is right behind in 62nd (0.97).
  • Jacquez is 87th in the NCAA in doubles per game (0.29).
  • 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 35th.     
  • Denning ranks 51st nationally in hits (53).
  • Denning is 60th in the country with 18 stolen bases.
  • Belarde is 63rd 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 5th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.63).

National Rankings – Team (as of 04/20/22)

  • Utah is 22nd in the nation with 74 stolen bases. 
  • 25th in the country in stolen bases per game (1.80).
  • Top-40 (36th) in country in batting average (.307).
  • 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 26th in strikeout-to-walk ration (3.59). 
  • 71st 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 at 11-games and Denning follows with the second longest at nine. Denning is currently on a seven-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 and Jimenez pace the Utes in multi-RBI performances with 11. Both have posted one game where they've collected five RBI. 

Bonstrom is the team leader and has reached safely in 23 consecutive games. 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 74 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 392-367-1 record and sports a 589-449-1 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.  

Haley Denning
Destiny White
AJ Militello
Madi Jacobus

Follow the Utes
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