Batter Up: What to Expect from Utah Baseball and Softball This Season


(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Casey Overfield and Brayden Ramsay


Utah Baseball 

The University of Utah baseball team is geared up for the 2020 season, and they have the skill level to see success in the new year. 

Last year, the Utes were a young team with lots of untapped potential. Utah went 16-33 in their 2019 showcase and finished in 10th place in the Pac-12. They will kick off their season against UC Davis and play teams such as Missouri, Kansas State, Minnesota and rival BYU in non-conference play. Pac-12 play will begin on March 27 against the UCLA Bruins and the regular season will wrap up on May 23 against the Arizona Wildcats. 

Many great things happened to Utah baseball since the 2019 season came to a close. 

The Utes were able to bring in an associate head coach with a background deeply embedded into college baseball. Gary Henderson coached at some of the nation’s best programs and even led multiple teams to College World Series appearances. His most recent trip to Omaha came as the interim head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2018. He also made multiple trips to the College World Series with the Florida Gators.

Kyle Robeniol was granted a medical redshirt after injuring his knee against the Oregon State Beavers in 2019. He was having a solid year for the Utes, striking out 27 batters in 36.2 innings and going 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA. Robeniol is projected to return to his Friday night starter role and will look to help lead the Utes to victory in series openers throughout the year.

Utah baseball signed 12 players on national signing day including four signees that were drafted into the MLB out of high school. Randon Hostert, Trey Clarkson, Kayler Yates, Brock Rudy, Sean Bolin, Vinny Zavolta, Casey Anderson, Noah Burgarello, Josh Giffins, Jake Connelly and Austin Youngblood all chose to play baseball at the University of Utah. These pickups would be good enough to make this class the No. 18 recruiting class in the nation and the No.3 recruiting class in the Pac-12. 

The Utes would also sign four players later in the year including right-handed pitchers Ben Kibbe and Noah Turley, catcher Owen Mortensen and third baseman Kai Roberts. Three of the four recruits are in-state talents who will look to showcase their skills for the Utes this season. Utah had a young team last year, so every position will battle for a starting job. These incoming freshmen are no exception.

Expect names like Briley Knight, Rykker Tom, Shea Kramer, Zack Moeller, Zac McCleve and Dustyn Schramm to continue their successes from last season into this year. With more experience under their belts, the Utes are positioned well to make improvements from their 2019 campaign. 


Utah Softball

The Utah softball team is primed and ready for the 2020 season. They are already off to a quick start, already playing in the Kajikawa Classic where they went 5-0. 

Looking back on last season, the Utes wrapped up 2019 with an overall record of 19-35, going 7-17 in Pac-12 play. This record landed them in seventh place in the league. In this year’s preseason poll, the Utes have been projected to finish eighth in the Pac-12. 

Some familiar faces that will be on the field this year include sophomore pitcher Sydney Sandez, who totaled 11 wins, 45 strikeouts and over 130.1 innings pitched.  The Utes will also welcome back sophomore Ellessa Bonstrom, who was a power in the batter’s box where she hit 13 doubles and five home runs last year. As a fielder, Bonstrom bounced around between the outfield, first base, third base and shortstop and ended up with a .962 fielding percentage. 

The upperclassmen to watch for include junior infielder Julia Noskin, who was an All-Pac-12 selection last year as well as an NFCA All-Region athlete.  She had a .318 batting average and was responsible for 36 runs scored and nine stolen bases. In the field, Noskin had only eight errors on the season and her fielding percentage was a strong .969. Alyssa Barrera is another All-Pac-12 athlete who is heading into her senior season after leading the team in batting average (.376), hits (59) and RBIs (37). Lastly, BreOnna Castaneda is also returning for her final year with the team. Last year, she was solid in the field at shortstop and third base with a .927 fielding percentage. 

Joining the familiar faces will be two sophomores — Elicia Espinosa and Charlee Pond. Pond is a transfer student who played her freshman season at Ohio University. Seven true freshmen will also join the roster: AJ Militello, Mary Beth Feldman, Madi Jacobus, Halle Morris, Destiny Quiles, Julia Scardina and Haley Denning. 

Each of these new athletes brings something unique to the team, and the coaching staff will have a lot to work with to fill the shoes of the seniors who graduated at the end of last year’s season. 

The Utes will have their work cut out for them with some challenging Pac-12 opponents this season. Four of the teams in the league are ranked in the NFCA preseason poll, and Washington comes in at the top at No. 1.  The Huskies have also been chosen by the coaches to win the Pac-12 this year. UCLA is riding high off of their Women’s College World Series victory last year as well as a first place Pac-12 finish. They are ranked No. 4 in the NFCA poll. Rounding out the top 10 is No. 5 Arizona, who finished third in the league last year. Arizona State is the last NFCA ranked team at No. 22. 

The Utes will play on the road until March 21 when they host UCLA in their second Pac-12 series. They will begin Pac-12 play against Washington on March 13 in Seattle.


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