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Softball Ready to Take on In-State Rival BYU on Tuesday

May 2, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah softball (24-24, 6-12) welcomes in-state rival, BYU (34-10, 7-2), to Dumke Family Softball Stadium on Tuesday, May 3, for a mid-week matchup. The game is slated to begin at 6 p.m. MT and can be watched via live stream provided by Utah Athletics. 
 
In their last meeting with the Cougars, the Utes dropped a 7-6 decision down in Provo in a game Utah scored four runs in the top of the seventh, courtesy of Ellessa Bonstrom who delivered a grand slam to take the lead entering the last half of the inning. BYU would respond in their last at bats, knocking a pair of back-to-back home runs to walk it off on their home field. 

How to Follow
Fans can watch the game through a live stream that will be provided by Utah Athletics.

Live stats will also be available for the game and fans can keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.
 
For the Fans
In a matchup against the BYU Cougars, it's only natural for tomorrow's game theme to be a RED OUT! Wear red and make sure to arrive early as Utah hats and visors will be given away.
 
Scouting the Cougars (34-10, 7-2)

  • Under the direction of long-time head coach Gordon Eakin, the Cougars are having another strong season in 2022 owning a record of 34-10.
  • In the West Coast Conference, BYU sports a 7-2 record and are in second behind Loyola Marymount in the standings.
  • The Cougars are currently on their second nine game winning streak of the year. Their last lost came on April 9, in a 1-0 decision at LMU. 
  • In their five preseason tournaments, BYU left with a winning record in three of them, split one and went 1-3 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
  • Notable wins for the Cougars include Stanford, San Diego State, California and a sweep at home against Iowa State.
  • As a team, the BYU lineup combines for a WCC leading .321 batting average, 361 hits (2nd in WCC), 73 doubles (2nd in WCC), seven triples, 48 home runs (1st in WCC) and 265 RBI (1st in WCC).
  • BYU has outscored their opponents 291-118 and have been successful in 55 of 64 stolen base attempts (2nd in WCC).
  • Nine Cougars own a batting average above .310 and eight batters have picked up 27 or more hits on the season. Four BYU hitters are top-10 in the conference in batting average.
  • Hunter Ava leads the charge at the plate batting .377 (3rd in WCC) with 46 hits, seven doubles, 13 home runs (T-1st) and 42 RBI (2nd in WCC).
  • Violet Zavodnik is tied with Ava in home runs (13) and leads the lineup in hits (48), doubles (12), RBI (44), slugging % (.767) and is second in stolen bases with 12 (5th in WCC).
  • The BYU pitching staff combines for a WCC leading 2.32 ERA. They have thrown 19 complete games, 12 shutouts (five combined) and have held opponents to a .240 batting average.
  • Autumn Moffat-Korth has made the most appearances (27) and starts (22), going the distance in half of her starts with 11 complete games. In 124.1 innings pitched, she has a 2.08 ERA with 78 strikeouts and a 14-7 record. She has also walked the most batters (36) and has given up the most extra base hits on the staff.
  • Chloe Temples has been solid for the Cougars in the circle, earning the victory in 12 of her 15 starts and owns a 2.45 ERA. She leads the team in strikeouts (109, 4th in WCC) and has held opponents to an average of .225 in 97.1 innings pitched.

Last Time Out
Utah softball took to the skies to take on No. 3 UCLA in sunny southern California over the weekend. It took some time for the Ute offense to get going as they managed just three hits over the first two games of the series. Utah was shutout in games one and two, but saw strong performances from the pitching staff keeping the Utes in the game and only giving up three runs total during the entire series. 

In game one, Sydney Sandez made her 16th start of the season and surrendered the lone run of the ball game in the second inning to pick up the loss and move to an 8-9 record. Sandez went 4.0 innings giving up four hits, one walk and striking out two before being replaced by Mariah Lopez in the fifth. Lopez held the Bruins quiet over her two innings pitched, walking one batter and striking out two to keep the Utes within a run entering the top of the seventh.

Aliya Belarde and Haley Denning picked up the only hits of the ball game as the Utes were held scoreless for just the fourth time in 2022. Utah left four runners on the base paths, two of those in the first inning.

The Utes fell in another close game against UCLA on Saturday night at Easton Stadium, giving up a run in the first and third inning to lose 2-0.  

Southpaw Mariah Lopez was given the starting nod for the 14th time this season and threw a strong full six innings, giving up two runs off four hits, walked three batters and struck out seven in total. Lopez picked up the loss and moved to 5-5 on the year.

Jordyn Gasper was the only Ute to record a hit in the game as Denning reached off an error by the UCLA shortstop in the top of the seventh and was just Utah's second baserunner of the night.

Utah bounced back in dominant fashion in the series finale, serving the Bruins their first home loss of the year in a five inning run rule, 8-0.  

Aliya BelardeEllessa Bonstrom and Kendall Lundberg powered the Utah offense, each crushing a home run. Belarde hit her first home run of her career in the first at bat of the game and Bonstrom followed with the second home run of the inning two batters later. Lundberg hit her towering homer in the fifth to extend the lead 7-0 and was the only Ute with two hits in the contest.

In total, seven Utes collected a hit as five earned an RBI on the day.  

Shi Smith earned her team leading ninth win after replacing Sydney Sandez in the circle in the third. Smith went 3.0 innings giving up one hit, one walk and struck out two in the process. Sandez made her 17th start in 29 appearances and allowed no runs on four hits while striking out three.

Team Stat Leaders (as of 5/2/22)

Batting Avg. Ellessa Bonstrom  .393
Slugging % Ellessa Bonstrom  .762
On Base % Ellessa Bonstrom  .521
Runs Scored Ellessa Bonstrom 39
Hits Haley Denning 55
RBI Julia Jimenez 47
Doubles Sophie Jacquez 12
Home Runs Ellessa Bonstrom  11
Stolen Bases Haley Denning  18
ERA Sydney Sandez 2.65 (119.0 IP)
K's  Sydney Sandez  95

 
Pac-12 Conference Individual Rankings (as of 5/2/22)

  • Bonstrom is 7th in batting average and 8th in slugging %. 
  • Bonstrom is tied 2nd in walks (29) and is 5th with eight hit by pitch.
  • Bonstrom sits in 3rd in on base %.
  • Bonstrom is T-8th in total bases (93).  
  • Bonstrom leads the conference in sacrifice flies with 4 and Faulk is T-2nd with 3.
  • Jimenez is 6th with 47 RBI and Bonstrom is T-8th with 39 RBI.
  • Jacquez is T-4th with 12 doubles and is two shy of sharing the top spot.
  • Denning leads the conference in stolen bases with 18 and Bonstrom is T-7th with 10. Militello and Gasper are T-8th, each with nine swipes.
  • Denning has the most steal attempts with 22.
  • Belarde and Denning are T-2nd in sacrifice bunts, each with seven.
  • Denning is 6th in hits. 
  • Sandez is T-8th with 33 batters struck out looking and is T-4th in walks allowed with 12.
  • Sandez is 4th in appearances (29) and is 6th with 119.0 innings pitched.
  • Morris is T-4th (15) in games in relief and Sandez is T-9th with 12.
  • Lopez is 8th with only eight doubles allowed.
  • Jimenez is 5th in assists with 93. Belarde ranks 8th with 83. 
  • Belarde is T-2nd in fielding double plays (12).
  • Espinosa is T-1st with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
  • Faulk leads the Pac-12 with 10 caught stealing.
  • Faulk is 7th with 228 putouts.  

Pac-12 Conference Team Rankings (as of 5/2/22)

  • 2nd in the conference in stolen bases with 77 and 2nd stolen bases per game (1.60).
    • Have converted 77 of 94 steal attempts.
  • T-1st in the conference in sacrifice bunts (25). 
  • Tied for 4th with Arizona in sacrifice flies (13) and just one behind ASU, Oregon and Washington for the top spot.   
  • 5th in hits (369) and 6th in batting average (.293).
  • T-5th in triples with seven.
  • 6th in walks (113) and 5th with 27 hit by pitch.
  • 7th in on base % (.360).
  • The toughest team to strikeout at the plate with lowest total of strikeouts as a team (176).
  • 2nd best Pac-12 team to have avoided grounding into double plays, hitting into just three on the season.
  • 5th in batters struck out (270) and batters struck out looking (72).
  • 5th in walks allowed (79).
  • 1st in the Pac-12 with the fewest total of wild pitches in the Pac-12 (6).
  • 6th in fielding % (.964).
  • 3rd in fielding assists (363). 
  • 4th in putouts (937). 
  • 4th in fielding double plays (13). 
  • 3rd in Pac-12 having caught 10 runners trying to steal.  

Pac-12 Conference Team Game Highs (as of 5/2/22)

  • 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 5/2/22)

  • Bonstrom ranks 52nd in slugging % nationally (.762). 
  • Bonstrom ranks 84th in batting average (.393).
  • Bonstrom ranks 25th in on base % (.521).
  • Bonstrom has climbed the national rankings and is now 26th in sacrifice flies with four. Faulk ranks 76th with three.
  • Jimenez is 63rd in RBI per game (0.96).
  • Jacquez and Jimenez have become one of the toughest to strikeout in the NCAA, both ranked in the top-50. Jacquez is 19th and Jimenez is 46th.     
  • Denning is 86th in the country with 18 stolen bases.
  • Denning and Belarde each rank in the top-100 in the NCAA in sacrifice bunts per game. Denning is 76th (0.16) and Belarde is 86th (0.15).
  • Sandez has been spectacular in the circle ranking 9th in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.92) and is 6th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.71).

National Rankings – Team (as of 5/2/22)

  • Utah is 30th in the nation with 77 stolen bases. 
  • 32nd in the country in stolen bases per game (1.60).
  • Top-75 (71st) in the country in batting average (.293).
  • 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 31st in strikeout-to-walk ration (3.42). 
  • 71st in shut outs with eight. 

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's current seven-game streak came to an end over the weekend.

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. Jimenez paces the Utes in multi-RBI performances with 13 and Bonstrom is right behind with 11. Both have posted one game where they've collected five RBI. 

Bonstrom owns the longest reached base streak of the season with 24 consecutive games. Denning and Jimenez follow with a streak of 14 and 11 which took place earlier this season, respectively.

Shutouts
The Utah pitching staff has thrown eight 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 Harris combined for one against Sacramento State (13-0) and most recently, Sandez and Shi Smith combined for an impressive mercy rule shutout against third-ranked UCLA (8-0, five innings). Smith entered in relief and went 3.0 innings giving up one hit, one walk and struck out two in the process as Sandez made the start and allowed no runs on four hits while striking out three in 2.0 innings pitched.

The final two took place on the same day at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. 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 seal 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 seven games this year to put the opposition away in run-rule fashion, the latest taking place this previous weekend at No. 3 UCLA (8-0, five innings). Three home runs were hit in the game as the Utes blasted a pair of home runs in the opening frame. Belarde got the fun started hitting the first homer of her career and two batters later, Bonstrom crushed her 11th big fly over the right field fence. Lundberg hit her towering homer in the fifth to extend the lead 7-0 as this marked the seventh multi-home run game of the season for Utah.

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.
 
The sixth run rule happened 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.

Pac-12's Most Wanted
Utah has established themselves as one of the most dangerous teams on the base paths in the conference, tallying 77 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 22 attempts. Bonstrom follows in T-7th with 10 swipes while Gasper and Militello are in a tie for eighth, 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 395-371-1 record and sports a 592-453-1 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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