Utah Softball Snaps Losing Streak in Doubleheader Sweep


University of Utah junior outfielder Alyssa Barrera (16) threw the ball 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


Sometimes looks can be deceiving. If you looked at the results alone, you’d see seven straight losses for the University of Utah softball team. Upon closer inspection, though, you’d see that all seven of those losses came against teams currently ranked in the top-11 of the USA Today division one softball rankings. Additionally, Utah had opportunities to win five out of those seven losses. Make a pitch here, find some grass there, and this 9-9 Utah team looks a whole lot different as they head into this weekend’s first six home games of the season.

Utah Valley

Game 1

Playing their first game at Dumke Family Softball Stadium since May 2019, the Utes capitalized on defensive miscues from the visiting Utah Valley Wolverines in a seven-run third inning that would provide all the offensive run support they needed amid snow flurries and a solid start from Sydney Sandez.

After both teams went scoreless through the first two innings, AJ Militello led off the bottom of the third for the Utes. Militello would run the count full before launching a blast that cleared the left-centerfield wall and landed about ten feet up on the grass berm. Mulitello’s first career home run was just the beginning for the Utes. Haley Denning would then reach on a bunt single before stealing second and advancing to third base on a throwing error from Wolverine catcher Basia Query, the first of three fielding errors from the Wolverines in the inning.

Utah would capitalize on those errors multiple times, with the big hit coming from super senior Alyssa Barrera, a bases-clearing 3-run triple that gave Utah a 5-2 lead. In all, Utah would score seven runs off of starter Brooke Carter.

UVU was able to get a run back in the fourth and add another in the sixth. A 2-run looping single to right field off the bat of Halle Morris that scored Elessa Bonstrom and Julia Noskin would give Utah a run-rule shortened 10-2 victory. 

Sandez would improve her team-best record to 6-1 behind five innings of six-hit ball. Brooke Carter (3-4) takes the loss for UVU after allowing seven runs on five hits in just 2.1 innings.


Game 2

Halle Morris got the start in the circle for Utah in the nightcap, but labored through two innings, allowing four hits, including a home run to Peyton Prigge. Mariah Lopez relieved Morris to begin the third, and Utah would not look back. 

Lopez put on a dominating pitching performance, going five full innings and only allowing two hits while picking up four strikeouts. Utah would need every bit of Lopez’s performance because in the circle for UVU was an equally dominating Devyn Cretz.

Cretz had her full repertoire working from the get-go in game two, recording eight straight outs at one point in the first three innings. It wasn’t until Denning reached base in the 4th that Utah could get anything going offensively against Cretz. But as has been the case frequently this season, Denning’s speed on the basepaths opened things up. Denning advanced to second on a sac bunt from Aliya Belarde. Belarde had replaced Julia Noskin after she was injured on a hit by pitch in the first inning. Alyssa Barrera brought Denning home with a sharp single to center field, her fourth RBI of the day, increasing her team-leading total to 23 for the season.

Catcher Katie Faulk came through with what would end up being the game-winning run on her 4th home run of the season, a solo bomb to left that was a no-doubter off the bat giving the Utes a 2-1 lead. Faulk was able to capitalize on one of Cretz’ few mistakes this afternoon.

Mariah Lopez ended up stymying UVU as they tried to mount a rally in the road half of the seventh, but Aubree Hogan popped out to Bonstrom in foul territory to end the game with a runner on third base. 

Lopez (2-5) picked up the win for Utah while Cretz (5-6) suffered the tough-luck loss. 


What’s Up Next


The Stanford Cardinal (17-4) enters the four-game series on the back of a five-game win streak, including four shutouts. Currently sitting at seventh in the Pac-12, this will be the first conference game for the Cardinal this year. 

Offensively, Stanford is led by Emily Young’s .467 average and leadoff hitter Teaghan Cowles sets the table with a .400 BA and .519 on-base percentage. As a team, the Cardinal have been limited to only five home runs this season, but make up for a lack of power with excellent on-base skills, including seven hitters reaching base at a .360+ rate. Once on the base paths, Stanford has converted 39-42 stolen base attempts, including a conference-best 14-14 by Cowles. 

In the circle, Stanford starter Alana Vawter is second in the Pac-12 in wins (11) and ERA (.32) and boasts a .91 WHIP in 12 appearances and 65 innings pitched. The only other pitcher on the Cardinal staff with more than 10 innings pitched is Regan Krause. Krause (5-3) is nearly as dominant as Vawter, with a 1.45 ERA and 1.04 WHIP herself. 

The Cardinal have been plagued by poor defense this season as they have 26 errors through 21 games, second-most in the Pac-12. Shortstop Emily Young leads the team with six errors in just 84 fielding opportunities.

Utah enters the weekend battered but not beaten. Several bright spots in the rotation, up and down the batting order and defensively have the Utes looking up. With minor tweaks and adjustments, Utah could easily find itself on a roll.

Game 1 of the 4-game weekend series is scheduled for 4 p.m. MST on Friday, March 26, at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium on the University of Utah campus. A limited number of seats will be available to the public and can be purchased here. If fans can’t attend, the games can be streamed here

Saturday is scheduled for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. and the final game of the series will be on Sunday at noon.


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