Softball: Utah cruises past SUU

By Jason Peterson

Several members from the U softball team danced on the sidelines while Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blared over the loudspeakers between innings of Tuesday’s double-header against SUU.

Playing for the first time in Salt Lake City this season, the Utes acted right at home in shutting out the Thunderbirds, 8-0, and again in the second game, 4-0.

In the first matchup of the afternoon, Utah’s Ashley Smuda pitched a no-hitter, the Utes batted .350 and — just like that — their five-game losing streak disappeared.

“It was great to get a couple of wins for our team,” head coach Amy Hogue said. “We needed to get back on a roll after what happened over the weekend.”

Centerfielder Diana Phillips went 3-for-3 in her first game, including her 13th career triple, which ties her for second all-time at Utah. Phillips also went 3-for-4 in the second game.

“Diana is amazing,” Hogue said. “She can hit the ball so many ways. I don’t have to tell her what to do — she just gets it done.”

Hogue said Phillips, who was elected by her teammates to be captain, is a natural leader by example.

For instance, freshman Laura Dahlberg made what was perhaps the play of the day by stealing second when she caught the Thunderbirds’ second baseman and shortstop sleeping after what they thought was a dead play.

“Laura just back-pedaled to first after she hit the ball and saw the opportunity to steal when they weren’t looking,” Hogue said. “I think she picked that up from Diana because she does that all the time.”

Utah’s other freshman, Brittany Parker, made a splash of her own by tossing a one-hitter in the second game.

“Our freshmen have played fantastic for us,” Hogue said. “Freshmen normally don’t play that much in their first season, but they’ve earned it. Laura had never played third base before, but she competed for that spot and got the job. We don’t have that much depth at pitcher, but we’re fortunate to have Brittany with us. She’s doing an excellent job.”

After struggling from the plate for the majority of last weekend in Arizona, the Utes found their stride and displayed a balanced attack against SUU. Eight different players crossed the plate for eight runs in the first game.

Utah owned a 1-0 advantage going into the bottom of the fourth inning and exploded for seven runs. The game was called after just five innings.

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