Skip to main content

Utes Walk off and Clinch First Series Against No. 9 Washington on Saturday, 4-3.

May 7, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah softball (26-24, 8-12) clinched the series against No. 9 Washington (33-13, 12-8) in walk-off fashion on Saturday afternoon, as Halle Morris drove in the winning run to defeat the Huskies 4-3. This is the first series win over Washington since Utah joined the Pac-12 and is the first time since 2017 the Utes have won three consecutive games over top-10 teams. 

"Once again we had some big time performances at the plate today. Kenny [Kendall Lundberg] struggled yesterday and came back today and tore it up," head coach Amy Hogue said. "Juju [Julia Jimenez] had a competitive edge with every swing of the bat today and she's just so fun to watch. She helped us with the win big time today." 

It was a combined effort from the Utah pitching staff as three different arms made an appearance in the game. Mariah Lopez (7-5) earned the victory after entering the ball game to start the sixth and went 2.0 innings giving up two hits and striking out one. Sydney Sandez started for the Utes making her team leading 18th start of the year and was replaced by Shi Smith in the in the third after going 2.1 innings allowing one run, four hits and a walk while picking up a pair of strikeouts. Smith's outing lasted 2.2 innings as she gave up a couple earned runs off two hits and also struck out two.

Kendall Lundberg headed the charge at the dish, going a perfect 3-for-3 with a double in the afternoon. Julia Jimenez had the loudest hit of the game crushing a two-run shot over the left field fence in her first at bat, her 10th big fly of the season. Jimenez also added a double on her 2-for-3 day at the plate. Aliya Belarde, Morris and Shelbi Ortiz were the other Utes to find a hit as Morris and Ortiz earned an RBI.

The win moves Utah to a 26-24 overall record and an 8-12 mark in conference play.

Final: Utes 4, Huskies 3
Sandez entered the circle for the Utes to start the game and came out firing, striking out the first batter she faced. The only walk of the game for Utah ensued and Haley Denning quickly put an end to the Washington half of the first, catching a pop-up in between the circle and short and quickly throwing over to first for the double play.

That momentum carried over as the Utes put a crooked number on the board, scoring two runs off just one hit. With two outs in the frame, Ellessa Bonstrom drew a walk to get aboard as Jimenez launched a two-run home run over the left field fence to put Utah on top, 2-0.

One of Utah's two errors was committed in the second with two outs, but not before the Huskies found their first hit of the game. Sandez popped up the following batter and Denning was under it all the way, but couldn't secure it for the final out and allowed the runner to advance to third. The error would come back to haunt the Utes as the next batter singled through the right side to plate the run and cut into the lead. Sandez picked up her final strikeout of the game to end the inning.

Lundberg hit her first extra-base hit of the year in the second, roping a shot that landed on the left field line and rolled to the wall for the stand-up double. However, Utah wouldn't convert with a strikeout and ground out to follow.

Washington got straight to work in the third, hitting a pair of singles and dropping a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. This would end Sandez's day and begin Smith's outing. Taking over in a tough spot with just one away, Smith quickly struck out the first batter on four pitches and flew out the next to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.

Belarde found her lone hit of the game in the Utah half of the inning and was moved into scoring position off a Denning sacrifice bunt. However, two flyouts followed to close the door on the opportunity.

Smith returned to the circle and made quick work of Washington in the fourth, sitting them down in order. Utah added a run in the bottom of the inning off two hits. Morris struck out at the plate swinging, but would reach first on a passed ball to get the Utes on the base paths. Lundberg then singled up the middle and CC Cook entered for Morris as pinch runner at second. Jacquez pinch hit for Katie Faulk and drew a walk on the sixth pitch of the at bat to load the bases. Ortiz then hit a hard-hit ball off the third baseman's glove to score Cook and extend the lead, 3-1. With runners on the pond, Belarde lined out to short stop who then doubled up Lundberg at third to close the door.

In the fifth and sixth innings, Washington scored a pair of runs to tie the game. The Huskies hit a leadoff home run in the fifth to pull within one and chased Smith out of the game in the sixth with a leadoff single. A fielder's choice followed and the second Utah error of the game put runners on first and second. The next batter singled up the middle to score the runner on second and tie the game at 3 apiece.

Utah was held quiet in their half of the fifth and sixth innings, leaving two on base in the fifth off a pair of walks. Lundberg collected her third hit of the game in the sixth and AJ Militello entered the game as a pinch runner for her. Faulk laid down a sacrifice bunt to push Militello into scoring position but was left stranded.

The Huskies singled with one away in the seventh giving them some life but Lopez put an end to that, lining out and striking out her only batter of the game to bring up the Utes with a chance to walk it off.

Denning lead off the bottom of the seventh and was ruled out on a batter's interference. Bonstrom followed getting hit by a pitch and Jimenez picked up a huge clutch time double to left center, bringing the Dumke Stadium crowd to their feet as runners were on second and third. Gasper was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Morris walked it off, hitting a high chopper to the short stop who couldn't handle it as Bonstrom crossed the plate to score.

Up Next
Utah softball will play their final home game of the season tomorrow afternoon to close out the series against Washington. Game time is set for 12 p.m. MT and can be seen via live stream provided by Utah Athletics.

Live stats will also be available for the games and fans can keep up with live game action by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.

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