Utah Softball Battles, Comes Up Short Against UCLA Bruins


Abu Sufian Mohammad Asib

University of Utah Softball team player and sophomore Julia Scardina (28) bats during an NCAA dual meet against Stanford University at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium in Salt Lake City on March 27, 2021. (Photo by Abu Asib | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brian Preece, Sports Writer


If you only looked at the standings or the box score, you might think the talent gap between the University of Utah softball team and the UCLA Bruins would be near insurmountable. But if you watched every pitch and saw every inning of the four-game series that took place this weekend, you’d find that the difference between the No. 2 ranked Bruins and the Utes — who are ranked very last in the Pac-12 — is minimal. 

The Bruins pitching staff did a great job of slowing Utah’s bats all weekend long, but Mariah Lopez, Mary Beth Feldman, Sydney Sandez and Halle Morris held their own against a deep and dangerous Bruin lineup that features two-time reigning player of the year Rachel Garcia. The Bruins swept the four-game set at Dumke Family Softball Stadium, but Amy Hogue’s Utah team showed they have all the pieces to build a contender for seasons to come.


Feldman took the ball for game one of the series, making her seventh start of the season. Staring down the barrel of a relentless Bruin lineup, Feldman got off to a difficult start by allowing a Briana Perez RBI-triple, followed by a two-run home run from Aaliyah Jordan that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead just three batters into the game. Feldman settled in and held the Bruins scoreless across the next three frames. 

Feldman pitched well during the first three runs, but Bruin starter Megan Faraimo was even better. Faraimo faced the minimum through three innings, not allowing a Utah base runner until a Haley Denning single to lead off the fourth. After Alyssa Barrera lined out to second base, Ellessa Bonstrom drew a walk, allowing Denning to advance to second base. Faraimo promptly retired Madi Jacobus and Julia Noskin, ending the Utes’ only threat of the evening. 

In the fifth, Garcia hit the Bruins’ second two-run homer of the ball game, giving UCLA a 5-0 advantage. Feldman pitched into the sixth inning for the second time this year but was pulled for Morris after a Feldman error with one out in the sixth allowed Thessa Malau’ulu to reach base. Morris got out of the inning unharmed and closed out the game for Utah. 

Feldman (1-3) took the loss for the Utes and Faraimo (13-3) picked up the win, allowing only two hits in her ninth complete game of the season.


Game 1

In a similar script to Friday’s game, the Utah offense couldn’t find any footing in a 4-0 loss, this time with Holly Azevedo in the circle for the Bruins. Sandez started for Utah and did a great job of limiting base runners for a tough Bruin lineup. But without any offensive support, you can only hold the Bruins down for so long. Were it not for the arm of Katie “The Principal” Faulk behind the plate, who nailed three would-be base stealers at second, this game could have gotten away from Sandez. 

Neither team was able to bring a runner home until the fourth inning when Delanie Wisz lifted a leadoff double to left that took Jordyn Gasper into the wall attempting to make the catch. Gasper had the ball in her glove for a moment before crashing into the wall, causing the ball to pop loose. Wisz was retired on a fielder’s choice to Denning at short, allowing Maya Brady to reach first. Brady advanced to third on a Malau’ulu single before scoring on a Seneca Curo sacrifice fly to center field. UCLA would tack on an additional run in the fifth thanks to Briana Perez’s 10th home run of the season; then they added two more insurance runs in the seventh after Perez and Garcia walked, setting the stage for another Wisz double to bring both home.

Utah’s offense was shutout for the second time in as many games as Azevedo (7-0) went 5.2 innings before ceding way to Garcia who picked up her first save of the season. Sandez fell to 10-8 on the season.

Game 2

Utah took advantage of Bruin starter Lexi Sosa in the first inning as Denning capitalized on a leadoff single and a passed ball that allowed her to advance to second base. Denning then stole third, her 29th stolen base of the season, before scoring on a Bonstrom fielder’s choice groundout that retired Noskin. After Barrera flied out to left, Morris tallied the second Ute RBI of the inning and the series when she lined a single to the centerfield wall that scored Bonstrom from first, giving the Utes an early 2-0 lead.

After Faulk worked a leadoff walk in the second inning, Sosa was removed in favor of Friday’s starter Faraimo. Faraimo was equally dominant in the nightcap on Saturday, limiting Utah to a single base-runner, a Destiny Quiles single in the seventh, over the final six innings.

Utah held onto their 2-0 lead into the fifth while true freshman Lopez spun a gem in the circle, working around one hit by a pitch and a fourth-inning single. In the sixth, UCLA took advantage of their speed when Kelli Godin and Kinsley Washington each reached via infield singles. Jordan then worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases in front of two-time National Player of the Year Garcia. Morris relieved Lopez prior to the Garcia at-bat as Hogue pulled strings trying to maintain the two-run lead. Garcia promptly cleared the bags with a one-out-double that rolled all the way to the wall, giving the Bruins their first lead of the game. UCLA tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when Perez singled, scoring Washington.

Lopez (4-11) re-entered as a pitcher and finished the game, taking the loss. Faraimo (14-3) got her second win of the series.


Faraimo continued her weekend of dominance with another four innings of one-hit softball against a beaten-down Utah lineup as the Bruins completed the four-game sweep with a 6-1 win.

Pitching around eight base-on-balls, Lopez utilized her defense through 6.1 innings, holding the Bruins to two runs until a four-run outburst in the seventh and final inning. Sandez relieved Lopez, getting the final two Bruin outs in the seventh.

Following the game, head coach Hogue was asked about Lopez’s performance.

“Mariah was the one that gave us the best chance to beat this team,” Hogue said in an interview with Utah Athletics. “She has now faced [UCLA] three times and she did well enough against them the first time down in Arizona that we knew she was going to be the one to give us the best shot.”

Faraimo (15-3) gets her third win of the weekend and made a strong case for Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week. Lopez (4-12) takes the loss for Utah.

On Deck

Utah will stay home to face the Weber State Wildcats for the third time this season on Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m. MDT before traveling west to take on the No. 5 Washington Huskies in Seattle over the weekend. Tickets for Tuesday’s game can be found here, and the game will be live-streamed here.


[email protected]