After a weekend off, the University of Utah softball team traveled to College Station, Texas, to play in the Texas A&M Tournament. The team played five games against three different teams over three days.
The Utes faced off against Texas A&M, Texas State and Louisiana Tech. Overall, the team went 3-2, bringing its preseason record to 9-7.
Friday, the Utes started off with Texas State and Texas A&M, and they split the day with one win and one loss.
The tournament opener was against Texas State, and the Utes fell 6-1. Miranda Viramontes suffered the loss for the Utes and left the game after four innings, but not before totaling seven strikeouts against the Bobcats. Utah earned its only run of the game in the third inning thanks to a double by Hannah Bowen, which allowed Julia Noskin to score. The Utes were unable to capitalize in the remainder of the game.
In game two on Friday, Utah faced off against No. 6 Texas A&M and came away with an 8-7 win. Katie Donovan earned the win and logged six 2/3 innings and six strikeouts for the Utes, and Viramontes was credited with a save. Alyssa Palacios helped the Utes earn their first run with a sacrifice fly to score Kelly Martinez. Martinez logged three RBIs for the game to lead the team, and Hailey Hilburn finished with two RBIs.
“Beating Texas A&M showed us how we can come together as a team,” said sophomore BreOnna Castaneda. “We had fun and that proved to us that we are a really good team. We have all the pieces.”
Saturday started out with the second game against Texas A&M, where the Utes fell 1-0. Utah had a slow start to the day and managed only one hit from Noskin.
Game two on Saturday matched the Utes up with Louisiana Tech. Utah took the 5-3 win with nine hits and Hilburn earned the win, and Viramontes earned another save. Hilburn also had three RBIs.
The Utes showed up as a team as they battled back from being down three runs in the second and third innings. After giving up a three-run second inning, Utah shut down Louisiana Tech to solidify their win.
“The biggest strength we showed was staying together,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “When we got down, there was really no finger pointing. I thought Hailey Hilburn had a strong performance against Louisiana Tech getting the win and driving in some runs, and our pitching staff did its job all weekend. We had some tough luck in a pair of games but the way we responded was impressive.”
Utah closed out the tournament on Sunday with a win over Texas State. Donovan earned the win in this 1-0 victory, and Viramontes earned her third save of the weekend. This duo solidified the fourth shutout for the team this season.
Utah’s only run came in the third inning off of a squeeze play executed by freshman Chandler Walter, who allowed fellow freshman Abby Robertson to cross the plate.
“I think we really showed a lot of fight this weekend,” Hogue said. “We got behind in a pair of games (TAMU and LT) and were able to turn it around. It was important for us to show that fortitude going forward.”
The Utes will travel next weekend to compete in College Park, Maryland, in the Maryland Tournament. They will start off the tournament on Thursday, March 8, against the University of Miami (Ohio) at 12 p.m. MT.