Over the weekend, the University of Utah softball team played in a three-game series against then-ranked No. 1 Arizona. Before the series began, Utah was seated at No. 14 in the country, but after securing two wins over the Wildcats, the Utes moved up to No. 10, the highest ranking of the season.
“[Moving up in the rankings] was pretty cool,” said freshman Ryley Ball. “Utah has always been considered the underdog and we are finally getting the recognition we deserve.”
The Utes hit a season high at No. 11 earlier in the season before playing against Oregon, but after taking three losses they dropped in the polls. As their wins continue, Ball is excited to see the Utes get closure to their top-eight goal.
“Our team is hard working,” Ball said. “I think we deserve it. We are just going to keep growing.”
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week
Along with moving up in the national rankings, Utah received another honor as Kelly Martinez was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Apr. 18 after her performance against Arizona.
Martinez was batting an average of .500 against the Wildcats while also holding a team-high .556 on-base percentage and a .625 slugging percentage. Head coach Amy Hogue said it was exciting to see Martinez receive this honor, especially since it was the Arizona series that Martinez was most amped up for.
“Arizona was recruiting her for a while so she had targeted those games years ago and to see her come and perform the way she did was phenomenal,” Hogue said. “She showed a lot of poise and a lot of focus, and those haven’t been her strengths.”
Hogue added that Martinez played like an upperclassman over the weekend as she had a different demeanor. Behind the plate, Martinez had her best game yet, throwing out 10 base runners, and it’s that kind of work that Hogue wants to see from Martinez every game.
“We told her she had done a bad thing, [because] now we kind of expect for her to be like that all the time,” Hogue said.
Leading the Pac
To add to her list of accomplishments this year, senior Hannah Flippen now leads the Pac-12 in batting average with a .436 percentage. While the accolades Flippen is receiving are encouraging, Hogue said it’s not something Flippen focuses on, because she has a bigger emphasis on the entire team succeeding.
“Hannah is the ultimate team player and I’ll say it every time someone asks me about her,” Hogue said. “She is not interested in herself. She is only interested in her team, winning games and doing everything she can to help with that, which involves her being a great player.”
In other areas of the game, Flippen is ranked third in the nation with a .516 in on-base percentage, a .745 percentage in slugging at .745, and she has 37 RBIs. She also remains in the top-10 in runs scored, doubles, hits and total bases.
“Hannah just likes to do whatever it is the team needs from her,” Hogue said. “The team has been needing her to get big time hits, and that’s what she has been doing so, I’m proud of her.”