The University of Utah softball team finished the weekend undefeated in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
The Utes looked to show they were more than a fifth-place Pac-12 team as they headed into Tempe, and with the chip on their shoulder they rattled off wins against UC Riverside, San Jose State, Indiana, UTEP and UT Arlington. To further add to the dominance of the weekend, four of the five results were shutouts, with San Jose State being the lone team to score on the Utes.
“We expected to come home 5-0, and we did,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “Our focus was early run production, and in every game, we played in we started with at least a five-run lead which gave our pitchers a chance to work on some things while getting into a groove and giving some of our second and third string [players] a chance to get some valuable time.”
Friday began as well as the Utes could have hoped. In game one, they scored eight runs in the first inning, with the highlight being Heather Bowen’s three-run homer following an Anissa Urtez single with the bases loaded. Bowen and Urtez continued their streaks throughout the day along with senior first baseman Bridget Castro and senior shortstop Hannah Flippen. Castro scored three runs while Flippen and Bowen each drove in four and Urtez would four hits on six at bats.
Pitching would be critical during day one, with juniors Katie Donovan and Miranda Viramontes taking the rubber early on. Donovan would only pitch three innings in the game one route, allowing only one hit and earning four strikeouts before Hailey Hilburn, a sophomore from Orange, Calif., would take the circle and pitch two no-hit innings. Viramontes had a more difficult time against SJSU, allowing four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings (although the Utes never lost the lead). Donovan came in to punch the final four outs.
“Miranda was a little tentative with her first time starting, but she settled in, and by the end of the weekend all of our pitching staff was right where we needed them,” Hogue said.
The Utes’ pitching would continue its dominance on day two, only allowing four hits and notching 10 strikeouts in 12 innings between Donovan, Viramontes and Hilburn.
In the game against Indiana, it was Flippen once again leading the Utes at the plate. She went 3-of-4 with two runs and a RBI. Equally as impressive in the 7-0 win was freshman Kelly Martinez, who went 3-of-3 with one run and one RBI.
As in game one, game four was over early. The Utes scored eight runs off of three UTEP pitchers in the first inning. With Viramontes on the mound for three innings of shutout pitching and Hilburn providing two innings of relief, the Utes only needed one more score in the third when Urtez smacked a double to bring Flippen home.
In the final day of competition, it was again the Utes pouring it on early with five runs in the first, while showing their athleticism in the second with a perfectly executed double steal by Urtez at second and Alyssa Barrera stealing home. By the end of the second, it was 8-0. The game would end with the Utes beating UTA 12-0.
The Utes finished the weekend outscoring their opponents 47-5, and they have had their best start to the season since 2010. They will continue their campaign this weekend in Long Beach with four games against the host 49ers and CSU Bakersfield.