Thrice bitten

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

The U softball team’s eight-game win streak came to a screeching halt as the Utes dropped consecutive contests to Washington, Cal State-Fullerton and Ohio State on its most recent trip to the West Coast.

Although the Utes (17-10-1) were in contention in all three games, their lack of offensive production and their inability to string hits together once again proved to be their downfall. Nevertheless, head coach Angie Jacobs remained upbeat about the way her team competed against some of the top teams in the country.

“We had a great spring trip,” she said. “I thought we played hard, we did some good things, and I think the team learned some good lessons.”

For the Utes, classes began last Tuesday with a hard-fought 3-1 loss to No. 12 Washington. Hailey Davenport’s first-inning homer put Utah on the board first, but the Huskies rallied, taking the lead for good with a pair of runs in the third inning.

Senior hurler Meghan Dyer got the start, tallying eight strikeouts and six hits on the afternoon.

“We played the No. 12 team in the country and our bats came up a little short today,” Jacobs said. “We weren’t able to put runs up on the board, but I think we played hard and we battled until the end.”

The second game of the trip, a 5-2 loss to Fullerton, saw the Utes sleepwalk through the first two innings, spotting the Titans a 5-0 lead in the process. Although Davenport and fellow slugger Diana Phillips dragged the Utes back into contention, their late-game rally fell just short.

Senior Karina Cannon started the game on the mound, but was replaced by Dyer after giving up five hits and five earned runs in only two innings on the mound.

“We started out slow and got caught on our heels for a couple of pitches,” Jacobs said. “I’m proud of how hard we fought, but I was disappointed that we didn’t start as strongly as we finished. I think that this was an excellent learning experience and we’ll take it into the rest of the season.”

In spite of their various learning experiences, the Utes’ “close-but-no-cigar” style of play still spilled over into Friday’s game, a 1-0 loss to Big Ten power Ohio State. Although the Utes’ defense was virtually perfect, its lack of offensive rhythm once again proved to be its undoing.

“We came out and we played hard today, but, once again, we didn’t string the hits together,” Jacobs said. “We got four hits, but none of them were timely.”

Phillips led Utah’s offensive efforts with two hits on three tries, while Dyer’s defensive efforts included eight strikeouts.

“Meghan Dyer pitched well for us, and we all played hard,” Jacobs said. “But we needed one or two key base hits and we didn’t get that.”

Fortunately for the Utes, they will have a few days to regroup before heading to Reno for their final tournament of the preseason.