Utah Softball Drops First NCAA Super Regional Game to SDSU


The Utah Utes take the field for their first NCAA Super Regional game against SDSU on Friday, May 26, 2023. The game featured the first sold-out stadium since 2017, with the outfield berm completely packed. (Photo by Margot Reynolds | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Margot Reynolds and CJ Alexander


The University of Utah softball team is just two wins away from a spot in the Women’s College World Series, where they haven’t made an appearance since 1994. This weekend’s series against San Diego State University (39-15) is the third time in program history that the Utes have reached the NCAA Super Regionals, and it started off with a tough loss.

With Mariah Lopez on the mound for Utah, the energy in Dumke Stadium was electric. SDSU’s Bella Espinoza singled to shortstop and made it to first, but was tagged out as she tried to steal second on the next pitch. After a dropped throw, Espinoza was safe at second and Jillian Celis was on first. A groundout to first advanced them each before a hit from Makena Brocki and another Utah error brought them both home. The Utes quickly rounded up a third out, but three quick outs from SDSU brought the first inning to a quick halt at SDSU 2, Utah 0.

Utah returned to the field with intense energy, with Lopez striking out the first batter and two quick groundouts following. The bottom of the second started off with a bang, with Utah’s Sophie Jacquez doubling to right field and Abby Dayton bringing her home, and advancing to third herself on an SDSU error. Haley Denning singled, sending Dayton across home plate and scored on a fly from Shelbi Ortiz, putting the Utes up 3-2.

The third inning was six-up, six-down, but in the fourth, a double from SDSU’s AJ Murphy brought SDSU another two runs. Lopez struck out the next batter before a single from Alexis Otero loaded the bases for SDSU. The Utah crowd got loud, and Mac Barbara couldn’t find a connection, striking out. Utah stepped up to the plate ready for action and found a groundout for Jacquez. Karlie Davison struck out looking and Dayton grounded out to second base to end the inning with SDSU up 4-3.

The fifth inning brought Utah fans some stress. With two outs, SDSU had the bases loaded, but Lopez brought the crowd to their feet with a strikeout. Denning started the Utah offense off with a single but was caught stealing second for the first out of the inning. A groundout from Kendall Lundberg and a groundout from Ortiz followed.

At the top of the seventh, after a scoreless sixth inning, Lopez turned up the heat, striking out two batters before a flyout ended SDSU’s chances to score. Down by just one point, the Utes were looking for at least one run to tie up the game. The crowd rallied, but strikeouts from Davison and Denning left Dayton on first base, looking to bring it home. Lundberg stepped up to the plate and gave it her all, but ultimately popped out to centerfield.

All in all, the Utes played a great game, with their first sold-out stadium since 2017 rallying behind them with lights, creative cheers, and, of course, disdain for every unfavorable call. The two teams face up again Saturday, May 27 at 3 p.m. MDT, and you can join in the crowd at Dumke Stadium or watch on ESPN2. If Utah wins, a third game will be played Sunday, May 28 to determine who moves on in the tournament.


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