In its second straight appearance at the NCAA Super Regionals, the University of Utah softball team was seeking revenge against conference rival Washington as the Huskies swept the Utes on their home field earlier in May. While both teams managed to clinch a win in the series and force a game three, it was the Huskies that walked away victorious to advance onto the Women’s College World Series.
“I’m super proud of this group, not only for what they accomplished this entire year, but just what they were able to represent on and off the field,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “They were fearless, resilient and made our fans, alumni and school very proud.”
In the first game of the weekend, the Huskies got on the board in the first inning when they put up four runs before extending their lead to 5-0 in the second. The Utes managed to get its offense on the board in the fourth. Hannah Flippen and Bridget Castro singled to put two runners on. Both Flippen and Castro made it home when Kelly Martinez hit a three-run home run to cut the deficit to two runs.
Washington then scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth and another run in the bottom of the sixth. The Utes put up one more run in the seventh from Martinez, but it was not enough to catch up to the Huskies, and the game came to a 10-4 end in favor of Washington.
The Utes had better luck in the second game of the weekend when they took the lead in the bottom of the second. After a single from Castro, Martinez homered the ball again to put up two runs for her team. The Huskies answered back in the third when they scored four runs, but the Utes took back the lead in the bottom half of the inning when they put up seven runs.
It all started with Alyssa Barrera being walked and Flippen reaching on an error. With Barrera then on third and Flippen on second, Anissa Urtez came to the plate, and she hit an RBI double. Martinez then took first after being hit by a pitch. A wild pitch allowed Martinez and Urtez to advance a base, and it allowed Flippen to score another run for the Utes. Heather Bowen scored Urtez off a sacrifice fly, and Martinez ran home after an RBI single from Kay Kay Fronda.
Delilah Pacheco also got hit by a pitch in that inning, and with her on first and Fronda on second, BreOnna Castaneda homered the ball to put up three runs. The Huskies scored two more runs in the fourth and one in the sixth and seventh, but it wasn’t enough as the Utes went on to take the second game by a score of 9-8. With the series tied up, a game three on Sunday was played as the tiebreaker.
To open the finale, Washington put up two runs on the Utes in the first two innings, but the Utes cut the deficit to one run in the fifth. Castaneda reached on a fielder’s choice, and she advanced to third after a double to left field from Barrera. Urtez hit a sacrifice fly to score Castaneda, but that was the only Utah run scored of the night. The Utes dropped the game 2-1, bringing their season to a close.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Flippen said. “Overall, we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted, but I know that we fought hard, did what we could do, and I hope that this program continues to grow and get better and be better next year.”