Utah Softball Caps 4-1 Weekend with a Pair of Blowouts


Curtis Lin

University of Utah catcher Katie Faulk (15) catches freshman utility Jess Lynch (32)’s pitch in an NCAA Softball game vs. Arizona at Dumke Family Softball Field in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday April 6, 2019. (Photo by Curtis Lin | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brian Preece, Sports Writer


Following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners last weekend, the University of Utah softball team continued their non-conference schedule with five games at the Judi Garman Classic.

The Utes faced Cal State Fullerton, Kansas, Texas A&M, Pennsylvania and Seattle in the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, CA, March 4-6.

In spite of the loss to Oklahoma, the Utes came away knowing they could hang with the best in the nation. Moral victories might be like lipstick on a pig to some, but the confidence gained can be something Utah draws on all season. Having a SportsCenter Top 10 play doesn’t hurt the confidence meter either. 

Through 18 games, the 13-5 Utes have gotten contributions from all over the roster.

Elessa Bonstrom has been a terror for opposing pitchers at the plate as she leads Utah in a number of offensive stats. Most notably, Bonstrom’s .442 average, 19 hits, 18 RBIs and four home runs lead in each category. Haley Denning continues to show the wheels as she already has 10 steals this year and has been caught just once. Her 10 stolen bases lead the Pac-12 after she finished second last season.

In the circle, Utah is ninth in the nation with six shutouts already, averaging a shutout every three games played. Senior Sydney Sandez has led the way for the Utes pitching staff with a 5-1 record. Sandez accounts for three of Utah’s six shutouts and her 0.65 ERA is good for 19th in the nation. 

As a team, the Utes have proven to be one of the best base-stealing teams nationwide. Their 45 stolen bases ranks behind only Grand Canyon’s 48. Utah averages 2.81 stolen bags per game. Four Utes have stolen at least six bases and six have at least four steals.

Cal State Fullerton Titans 3 – Utah Utes 4

Junior transfer Julia Jimenez continues to put her stamp on this Utah team as a pair of Jimenez home runs led the Utes to a 4-3 extra inning win.

After a scoreless first inning, Jimenez launched a solo home run to right, giving Utah a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom half of the second, Fullerton was able to break through against the previously dynamic Sydney Sandez. After loading the bases, a two-run single gave the Titans a lead and marked just the second time Sandez had surrendered two or more earned runs this year.

After singling in the fifth, Ali Belarde advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch. The Utes’ leading RBI player, Elessa Bonstrom, didn’t waste the opportunity. Bonstrom tied the game at 2-2 when she laced a single to center that scored Belarde.

With the score still knotted up in the seventh, Jimenez came through again with her third home run as a Ute put them in front 3-2.

The lead was short-lived after Sandez gave up a leadoff triple followed by a game-tying single. Halle Morris would come on in relief of Sandez. Following a sacrifice bunt from the Titans,  a baserunning mistake allowed Utah the get the final out of the inning at home.

With MK Gomez starting the eight on second, Sophie Jacquez drew a walk. After an error allowed Stella Bennett to load the bases, Haley Denning slapped a ball through the left side that brought Gomez in to score.

Halle Morris (2-2) got the win in relief while Mya Sutherlin (4-2) took the loss for Cal State Fullerton.

Kansas Jayhawks 2 – Utah Utes 7

Utah (14-5) led from the outset and Elessa Bonstrom hit her team-leading fifth home run of the year in a 7-2 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.

Bonstrom got Utah on the scoreboard right out of the gate when she squared up her fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot that scored Denning in the bottom of the first.

Mariah Lopez was cruising through three innings, only allowing a pair of base runners. In the fourth, Kansas was able to tag Lopez for an earned run after giving two doubles. 

Utah added two more unearned runs in the fifth thanks to two Jayhawk errors. Ali Belarde scored when a Sophie Jacquez liner was bobbled at first. Bonstrom came around to score when Jordyn Gasper grounded out to short.

The Utes added some insurance runs in the sixth when Bonstrom came to the plate with the bases full of Utes. A three-run double plated Belarde, Denning and Bennett.

Lopez (4-2) picked up the win in 5.1 innings pitched. She struck out nine, walked just three while allowing four hits and two earned runs. Katie Brooks (3-3) took the loss for Kansas.

Texas A&M Aggies 11 – Utah Utes 3

Utah’s bullpen spoiled a five-inning, four-hit pitching performance from Sydney Sandez as they surrendered nine runs in two innings, the Utes falling to Texas A&M 11-3.

With Utah trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Sophie Jacquez doubled home Ellessa Bonstrom to cut the Aggie lead in half. 

In the fifth, super senior Katie Faulk’s first home run of the season tied the score at two. 

Halle Morris came on in relief of Sandez to start the sixth and the wheels fell off. The Aggies teed off on Morris to the tune of two home runs and five earned runs. Things didn’t get much better in the seventh when Shi Smith gave up another four runs, including a three-run homer that all but decided the matter.

Offensively, Utah was limited to just five base hits, the fourth lowest single game total this year.

Morris (2-3) took the loss while Emiley Kennedy (5-1) got the win for the Aggies.

Pennsylvania Quakers 3 – Utah Utes 13

Utah scored the most runs in a single game this year as three Utes had two or more RBIs in the run-rule shortened five-inning game.

Julia Jimenez continued to swing a hot bat as she got the Utes on the scoreboard with a first inning two-RBI single. Solo home runs for Penn in the opening two innings tied the score at 2 heading into the fourth inning.

In the fourth, two Quaker errors allowed Utah to plate three runs on three hits to take a 5-2 lead.

The game turned into a route in the fifth when two more Quaker errors combined with four hits allowed the Utes offense to bat around on their way to scoring eight runs in the inning. Ellessa Bonstrom added the big blow, leading off the inning with her sixth homer of the year.

The Utes stole five bases in the game, marking the seventh time they have stolen four or more bags.

Mariah Lopez (5-2) allowed four hits and two earned runs in two innings pitched. Freshman Hailey Harris pitched the fifth inning in relief of Lopez, allowing one run while uncorking a pair of wild pitches. Julia Longo (1-5) took the loss.

Seattle Redhawks 0 – Utah Utes 9

After scoring four runs in the opening inning, the Utes continued to pile on as a runner crossed the plate in all five innings. Sydney Sandez improved to 6-1 to start the season in the shutout, lowering her ERA to 1.18. 

Four first-inning runs for Utah chased Redhawk starter Stefanie Madrigal after facing just five batters. A Sophie Jacques double brought Jimenez around to score the fourth run of the inning.

Senior catcher Katie Faulk picked up her second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth inning.

On Deck

The Utes begin their spring break in Los Angeles, CA where they will play a doubleheader against Loyola-Marymount on Tuesday, March 8. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. MST at Smith Field.


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