For the first time in its history, the University of Utah softball team defeated the top team in the nation as the Utes stopped the Arizona Wildcats this weekend. While the Wildcats took the victory over Utah in the first game, the Utes rallied back in the last two games to claim the series victory.
In the first game, the Utes struggled to get any runs on the Wildcats. Going into the seventh inning, it looked like the game was going to be a shutout for the Wildcats when they were up 5-0, but junior Heather Bowen, who was already on second, ran home after a double from freshman Kelly Martinez. That was the only run from the Utes as they suffered a four-run loss, 5-1.
The Utes turned the tables in the second game. In the first inning of the game, senior Delilah Pacheco put up the first run for her team, and senior Bridget Castro and Martinez followed with their own runs in the bottom of the second.
“I was so excited the whole time,” Castro said. “My heart was beating so fast. I knew we had to score so many runs in order to beat them because [Arizona] is so great. I was just trying to stay positive throughout the whole game, trying to help where I could and do my job.”
The Utes were on a roll and by the end of the fifth inning they had a 6-0 lead, but Arizona made it clear they weren’t going down without a fight. The Wildcats put up three runs by the end of the game, but it wasn’t enough as Utah held on for a 6-3 win.
“We executed the plan we talked about so well and I couldn’t be more happy with my team right now,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “We have performed really well, especially the pitchers, so I think day three against [Arizona] is going to be about putting together a combination of our pitchers to survive seven innings of battle. Our goal is to win the series and I like our chances.”
In the last game of the series, Arizona got the lead in the first inning, but Utah answered the Wildcats’ run with two of its own and the Utes took a 2-1 lead at the end of the inning. Pacheco made her way through the bases and made it home after singling to center field and after senior Anissa Urtez flied out to right field.
Freshman Alyssa Barrera was one base behind Pacheco and after Castro’s single, Barrera ran it home as well. Arizona tied up the score in the second inning, and it remained tied until the bottom of the seventh when freshman Ryley Ball scored, and she brought the game to a 3-2 end in favor of the Utes.
Up next for the Utes, they will head to Tempe for a three-game series against Arizona State starting on Friday, April 21. Friday’s first pitch is set to begin at 8 p.m. MT followed by Saturday and Sunday’s games at 5 and 12 p.m. MT, respectively.