To open its season, the No. 15 University of Utah softball team traveled to Tempe, Arizona to compete in the Kajikawa Classic. The team concluded the tournament going 2-3. The Utes took on New Mexico, Georgia, Nebraska, Tennessee and Saint Mary’s.
“It was so cool to see everyone finally come together for the first tournament,” said sophomore BreOnna Castaneda. ”It is so exciting because we have so many players who can play in so many different places, and each of us can do so many different things.”
On Friday, Utah played a doubleheader against New Mexico and Georgia. The team split the action, going 1-1.
Aided by an 11-run second inning, the Utes took a 17-0 win against New Mexico. Giving up only one hit, pitchers Claire Feldman, Katie Donovan and Hailey Hilburn were key contributors.
Utah was also helped by home runs from Castaneda, Aubrey Peterson and Heather Bowen. Ally Dickman had a successful game as she hit two ground balls that scored three runs all total.
In game two, Utah fell 5-1. The team fell short on offense, and managed only five hits throughout the course of the game. Utah’s only run was scored by a sacrifice fly from Bowen that allowed Castaneda to score. Near the end of the game, Georgia got two two-run home runs to solidify its victory.
The following day, the Utes dropped contests to Nebraska and Tennessee. The Utes started off the day against Nebraska with a 5-0 loss before falling to Tennessee, 6-5.
Against Nebraska, the Utes tallied six hits. Although they had the chance to put themselves on the board with two runners on base, they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to drive in runs.
To conclude its play on Saturday, Utah scored three early runs in the first inning, and then added two more in the fifth, while Tennessee only had two runs at that time. Utah held the lead until the seventh inning of the game when the team gave up three runs.
Head coach Amy Hogue said that the biggest takeaway from the weekend was that the team has to have the stamina to play through seven full innings.
“We lost late in all three losses, and there are so many things that can happen in a game that can make a difference in how the game ends,” Hogue said. “Every single opportunity that you get, you have to make the most of it because you can’t look back and hope what if we had done that better.”
Wrapping up the weekend action, the Utes played Saint Mary’s. Utah walked away from the game with a 5-2 victory to end the tournament on a high note. Hilburn pitched her second win, and she was assisted by Donovan.
The Utes started the game down 1-0, but they took the lead with a two-run home run off the bat of Bowen. They gained their final three runs with hits from Abby Robertson and Castaneda in the sixth inning.
Up next, Utah will compete in the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California beginning on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m.