Utah Softball: The Bat Gets Hot in Las Vegas


The University of Utah Softball Team huddled up in an NCAA Softball game vs. Arizona at Dumke Family Softball Field in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday April 06, 2019.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brian Preece, Sports Writer


The University of Utah softball team traded the rain and snow of Salt Lake City for the sun and heat of Las Vegas to play five games in the UNLV Desert Classic over the weekend.  


Game 1: The Utes needed some 7th-inning fireworks to knock off in-state foe Weber State 4-3. 

Entering the final frame down 3-2, Utah senior center fielder Alyssa Barrera tied the score at 3-3 with a two-out RBI single. A throwing error allowed Barrera to advance to second base on the play. Barrera would then come around to score the winning run on an RBI single from junior third baseman Ellessa Bonstrom. Sydney Sandez improved to 4-0 on the season after allowing three hits and one run in four innings of relief.

Game 2: The Utes’ struggles at the plate would continue against California Baptist on Friday night, as they fell to the Lancers 5-3. 

In the first inning, Madi Jacobus hit a sacrifice fly that brought home Haley Denning. Denning would cross the plate again in the second inning on a two-RBI, pinch-hit single from Destiny Quiles that would also score Savanah Whatley. Unfortunately for Utah, the bats would go quiet as they could only scrape together three additional hits in the final five innings.

After earning the game 1 win in relief, Utes game 2 starter Sandez couldn’t hold on to an early 3-0 lead, allowing three earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched. 

After the loss, Utah’s Head Coach Amy Hogue said, “A split today is disappointing and yet it took everything we had to get that first win. We have been leaning on our pitching and they struggled for a lot of the day today. It’s time for our offense to be there for our pitchers. We need to do a better job of adjusting at the plate and hitting balls hard.”



After struggling to string together hits and create the big inning for much of the early season, the Utes exploded in both games on Saturday. A combined 28 runs scored, six home runs and nine extra-base hits were exactly what the doctor ordered to get the Utes out of their offensive slump.

Game 1: Starting the game at the designated player position, Halle Morris entered the game in relief of starter Mary Beth Feldman and contributed across the board. Morris held California Baptist to 3 hits and zero runs across four innings pitched and finished 2-4 at the plate with five RBI and two runs scored. 

Entering the 7th inning with a 7-6 lead, Utah would tack on seven more insurance runs via four singles, two doubles and a fielder’s choice, giving Utah an easier-than-it-looked 14-7 win.

Game 2: In the Saturday nightcap, Utah overcame three errors and several crooked number innings to knock off UNLV 14-12 with their best offensive game of the season.

The top half of the Utah batting order did most of the damage with hitters 1-5 accounting for 13 hits and 11 RBI. Bonstrom and Barrera combined for four hits, three runs scored and nine RBI. The Utes needed every bit of the offensive outburst as pitchers Morris and Sandez struggled to miss UNLV bats, earning only three strikeouts in the game. 


True freshman pitcher Mariah Lopez’s first complete career game win led Utah to a 6-3 victory, the team’s third straight win — which improved their overall record to 9-2 for the season. Coach Hogue spoke of Lopez’s performance, “Mariah just introduced herself to everyone. What a day she had. It was fun to see her throw her first complete game as a Ute.”

Lopez’s only spot of trouble came during the 4th inning when she surrendered a 3-run home run to Janyssa Martin. Lopez racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts while allowing only four hits in seven innings.

At the plate, the Utes were led by home runs from Barrera, Bonstrom and Julia Scardina. Utah finished the UNLV Desert Classic with 10 or more hits in each of their final three games. 

Utah’s softball team will be back on the diamond next weekend in Tempe, AZ as they take on three ranked opponents — the No. 10 Oregon Ducks on Sunday at 5 P.M. MST, followed by a doubleheader against the No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils on Monday morning before facing the top-ranked No.1 UCLA Bruins on Monday afternoon.


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