In their 2019 Pac-12 season opener, the University of Utah softball team hosted the University of California, Berkeley in the Dumke Family Softball Stadium. Utah came away with a 2-1 victory in the series.
Most recently, the Utes were in the Spring Fling Tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii. They won four of their five matchups in this tournament and scored 38 runs in total over the four-day span.
The Utes then came back and hit the ground running with their first Pac-12 foe of the season. This was the first time the Utes have played at home in the 2019 season.
“It was good just to be home for sure, and we have been practicing all fall and all spring so it was really nice to start at home,” said freshman Ellessa Bonstrom. “We looked good and it was a lot of fun.”
Game one of the series brought a 5-4 victory to the Utes. Cal got off to a strong start with two early runs. Utah would not catch up until their two-run third inning, thanks to a two run home run from Bonstrom.
The Utes then extended their lead by three more in the bottom of the fifth off of a two-run triple from junior Alyssa Barrera, and an RBI single from senior Ally Dickman to bring in Barrera. The Golden Bears would score two more before the game ended, but the Utes still came out ahead after seven innings.
Sydney Sandez was the winning pitcher for the Utes, her fifth win of the season, and she saw 2.2 innings of play after replacing senior Hailey Hilburn in the fourth inning.
Saturday afternoon brought game two and another win for Utah’s Sandez. This 7-4 win was hard earned, and the Utes came out with some strong hitting to solidify their second Pac-12 victory.
Utah took another early lead off of a triple from Bonstrom. The Utes held onto that lead and extended it by two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning with a double to center field from freshman Makayla Hurst. Cal came into the fourth inning looking for runs, and they tied up the game with a solo home run and two RBI’s.
The Utes answered back in the bottom of the inning with two more runs that came in after Barrera’s second triple of the weekend. The Utes sealed the deal with a two-run sixth inning to bring their run total to seven.
“One of the things we have been working really hard to do is to have some really big hits in some key moments, and the first two days that was the difference,” said head coach Amy Hogue.
Game three of the series started off on a high note as the Utes shut down the Golden Bears with a three-up three-down first inning.
Utah scored their first at bat off of Barrera’s third triple of the weekend, but Cal came back in the next half inning with two runs of their own. They added one more run in the top of the third to make it 3-1.
Bonstrom brought the Utes back into the game in the bottom of the third with a three-run homer to make the score 4-3 Utah. This was her second home run of the weekend.
In the bottom of the fourth, Utah extended their lead to 5-3 off of a fielding error on the Golden Bears.
With only one out in the top of the fifth, Cal tied up the game off of two line drives over the head of shortstop Bonstrom, and then took the lead with a bases-loaded single.
Hilburn brought the lead back to the Utes in the bottom of the fifth when she sent a long double over the head of the center fielder to score two runs. However, Cal stepped up in the top of the sixth with a solo home run from Mikayla Coelho, and the game remained tied going into the seventh.
Neither team was able to go ahead until the bottom of the eighth when Cal’s Destiny Blueford sent a solo home run over the left-field fence.
The Utes were unable to come back in the bottom of the eighth, and they fell in game three 8-7. Although the outcome of game three was not ideal, the team was still extremely successful, and after their first three Pac-12 games, four Utes are hitting over .300, with Bonstrom leading the team with a .556 average.
“It’s kinda fun to win because if you had told me I’d be disappointed we didn’t get a sweep, to me that says we are in a really good place right now,” Hogue said. “Things are really starting to come together right now, that’s what I told the kids just now. We have learned a lot over the first preseason five tournaments, and some of those things that we have learned, everyone here got to see, and the timing couldn’t be better for us to start conference play having learned some things and now we get to go with some confidence back onto the road.”
The Utes will be back in action next weekend in Tempe, Arizona where they will face the Arizona State University Sun Devils in a three-game series starting on Friday, March 2 at 8 p.m. in Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium.