Team brings home mixed results from Mountain West matchups

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

Walk-off home run gives Utah victory

The Utes earned their first Mountain West Conference win with a 9-7 victory over UNLV on Thursday afternoon.

Junior center fielder Kara Foster tied Utah’s all-time home run record as she hit her 49th career homer, a walk-off two-run home run, to give the Utes the win in the bottom of the seventh.

“Me and (assistant) coach Adrian Gregory had been talking about how she’d been pitching me outside the whole game so I decided to get up on the plate and wait for my pitch,” Foster said. “I was patient enough and got through the ball and it just kind of happened.”
After struggling at the plate last weekend against BYU, Utah came alive against the Rebels as it earned nine runs on 13 hits, including two home runs. Right fielder Angie Boardman hit a solo home run in the first inning to get the offense started for the Utes.

“We just outhit them,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “We didn’t hold them on defense, we didn’t hold them on the mound, but we outscored them and that gives you wins.”
Although Utah pitchers Ashley Smuda and Joni Cook only walked three batters8212;an improvement from last weekend8212;the two gave up seven runs on nine hits, which included three home runs.

Despite the struggles on the mound, the Utah batters came through, something they haven’t been able to do in the past.

“We came together and were able to get runners on base and have timely hits, whereas before when we had runners on base, we didn’t come through,” said first baseman Staci Hemingway. “We had a lot of traffic on the bases, and when we did have base runners on, we got those clutch hits and that was difference in the game.”

Pitching and batting struggles against San Diego State

In Utah’s weekend matchups, pitching staff continued to struggle, but the quality batting didn’t carry over from the UNLV game as the Utes got shut out 3-0 and 11-0, respectively8212;the 10th time the Utes have been shut out this season.

“We hit the ball really good today, it was just right to people,” Foster said. “Defense did really good, offense did really good, we just didn’t generate the runs.”

After looking sloppy on defense against BYU, Utah’s clinic-like practices this week helped the defense get back on track.

Although Utah pitchers Cook and Smuda gave up 10 hits, the defense kept most of those runners from scoring as the Aztecs only had three players cross the plate.

“We’ve made some adjustments all week at practice. We worked on short game and just communicating,” Hemingway said. “That’s what it was, just communication things and that’s something small that we fixed that got us comfortable and back in the groove of things with defense.”

In Saturday’s game against San Diego State, nothing seemed to be going the Utes’ way as their pitching, hitting and defense all took a turn for the worse.

Although two Utah errors on defense allowed two unearned runs, it was the pitching staff who had the hardest time.

Lindsey Palmer, Smuda and Brittany Parker gave up 11 runs on 14 hits and struck out only three Aztec batters.

“Our kids are working on different things off the field to revamp their styles to help us in the future and it’s showing and hurting us right now,” Gregory said. “In the future, you will see our kids become stronger and better because of the changes we made but right now they are struggling to find their confidence and struggling to find their location and altogether just struggling.”

The Utah batters did nothing to help the pitchers get out of the 7-0 hole they had dug by the end of the second inning, as the Utes only got two hits on the day and saw seven batters strike out.

“We are not making adjustments at the plate, we are letting one pitch kill us every time,” Gregory said. “We are doing the same thing over and over and hoping it works and it just won’t.”

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Tyler Cobb

Kara Foster gave Utah a 9-7 win with a two-run walk-off home run. The home run was her 49th career home run, tying the all-time record at Utah.