Utah Softball Falls to 0-6 in Conference Play


University of Utah freshman pitcher Sydney Sandez (1) pitched 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


The University of Utah softball team returned to the friendly confines of the Dumke Family Softball Stadium for the first time in 688 days to face the Utah Valley Wolverines in a doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon. 

After a disappointing offensive performance in Eugene, the Utes showed some signs of breaking out of their slump during a seven-run third inning in a 10-2 first game win. Timely hitting evaded Utah in the second game, though they did come out on top with a 2-1 win in the second game. More would be needed from the bats with the 18-4 Stanford Cardinal coming to play in the shadows of the Wasatch mountains in a four-game set over the weekend.


Utah got out to another fast start behind a Madi Jacobus single, followed by Alyssa Barrera’s second triple of the homestand, giving the Utes a 1-0 first-inning lead. But, as has been the story all too frequently this season, the offense struggled to make headway with runners on base.

Utah head coach Amy Hogue talked about the importance of capitalizing on opportunities, “This team wants to win games against good teams, but there are so many little things we need to do better in order for that to happen. So many players are getting opportunities to do something to help us win, and yet we are not succeeding enough times.”

Over the course of the season, Utah has had 117 runners reach the bases only to get stranded at the end of the inning. By Friday afternoon, they left nine more ducks on the pond. Utah will have to find a way to get the big hit more consistently than they have over the past couple of weeks. Cardinal starter Regan Krause (6-3) went the distance, scattering eight hits and allowing two walks against five strikeouts.

In the circle for Utah, Sydney Sandez (6-2) was able to pitch out of a jam in the second inning, allowing only one run on a bases-loaded walk to Montana Dixon. Sandez was not as fortunate after loading the bases again in the fourth as Stanford was able to tack on another three runs, giving them a 4-1 lead. 

The Utes would add an insurance run-off of Halle Morris in the fifth inning after Morris relieved Sandez to begin the fifth. Morris recovered nicely from a rough start in game two on Tuesday, going three innings and allowing only two hits. 

Barrera increased her team-leading RBI total to 25 as she accounted for both Utah runs on the afternoon. 

“It’s a four-game series and I know we will have even more chances tomorrow to do some big things. I’m looking forward to seeing who finds a way to step up and help us secure that first win in conference,” Hogue said.


The Dumke Family Softball Stadium became a house of horrors for the Utes in a Saturday afternoon doubleheader. Utah struggled to get anything going against the Stanford Cardinal in either of Saturday’s games. The bats were inconsistent at best, Ute pitchers allowed frequent hard contact and the defense fell flat.

Cardinal starting pitchers Alana Vawter (12-1) and Krause (8-3) both went the distance in their respective starts, allowing a combined 10 hits and two runs. Coming into this weekend’s matchup, Vawter and Krause have been leaned on heavily for Stanford and combined to throw all 20 innings in this series.

Stanford scored two early runs in the first game on consecutive extra-base hits to open the ballgame off of Ute starter Mariah Lopez, including an inside-the-park home run off the bat of Taylor Gindlesperger. The defense behind Lopez did her no favors as Utah finished the game with three errors officially and had several other sub-par defensive efforts. When a team is playing as well as the Cardinal have been, you can’t afford to give them extra outs. 

Mary Beth Feldman relieved Lopez three batters into the fourth inning after two Utah errors had allowed Stanford to increase their lead to 4-0. Stanford got to Feldman as well, but she limited the damage to one more run in the inning. Feldman and Alicia Estrada each made their first appearances in Pac-12 play, gaining valuable experience in spite of the loss.

Utah scored their first run of the ball game in the home half of the fourth on an RBI single from catcher Katie Faulk. Utah continued their inability to collect a big hit with runners on base as they stranded seven runners throughout the game. 

Stanford added insurance runs in each of the final four innings, building a commanding 9-1 advantage. Jacobus picked up her 18th RBI of the year on a sac fly to right in the seventh, giving Stanford the 9-2 win.

Getting the start in both games, Lopez hoped to get off to a better start in the second game and looked to have a different edge through the first inning, setting the Cardinal down in order. That 1-2-3 inning was probably the high point of the nightcap for the Utes though, as they would go on to lose 8-0 in a run-rule shortened six-inning game. 

Stanford would score two in the second, two more in the fourth and close with a big four-run sixth inning that included a three-run blast off the bat of Eleni Spirakis to close the scoring.

Krause picked up the win for Stanford, allowing only four Utah hits. On the other side, Lopez got her second loss of the day while Morris closed out the game in the circle for Utah. Faulk extended her hitting streak to seven games as she reached base safely in both games. 


Sunday afternoon began as a beautiful day for softball, with the Utes playing their best game of the series and were poised to pick up their first conference win, but the softball gods did not cooperate as Stanford scored two first-inning runs, en route to a 4-1 Cardinal victory.

Sandez got her second start of the series as she opened the game in the circle for the Utes and was opposed by Vawter, also making her second start of the series. Stanford got to Sandez early, scoring first on a triple from Gindelsperger. Gindelsperger then scored on a sacrifice fly from Emily Young.

In the second inning, Alyssa Palacios hit her first home run of the season, a solo shot that landed just beneath the scoreboard in the left-center. Utah would again struggle to hit with runners on base, leaving three of them stranded, but they were limited in opportunity by Vawter’s lights out pitching.

Stanford tacked on two insurance runs in the fifth inning via another Gindlesperger triple and a Young RBI groundout. 

Stanford finished the weekend with four complete games, two apiece from Krause and Vawter. Utah got better performances from their staff as Sandez, Morris and Lopez combined to limit the Cardinal to their lowest offensive output of the series.

“Our pitchers and defense did a nice job today. We need to work hard this week to continue to improve our offensive game so we can win games in this league,” Houge said to Utah Athletics post-game Sunday.

On Deck

Utah will stay home and await the arrival of the No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils. Scheduled for a four-game series beginning on Thursday at 4 p.m. MST, both Utah & ASU will each be looking to bounce back from difficult weekends in the Pac-12 competition. Friday will see a doubleheader with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. MST before they wrap up the weekend with a noon game on Saturday. Limited tickets are available for purchase and can be found here. 


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