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Utah Softball Dominates Golden Bears in Whirlwind Weekend

The Utes’ turn came in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 1, when the energy exploded and the team found their footing.
The+University+of+Utah+womens+softball+team+takes+the+field+against+the+SDSU+Aztecs+on+Saturday%2C+May+27%2C+2023.
The University of Utah women’s softball team takes the field against the SDSU Aztecs on Saturday, May 27, 2023. (Photo by CJ Alexander | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Continuing their regular Pac-12 play this weekend, the Utah softball team welcomed the California Golden Bears to Dumke Stadium for another series of three. The two teams have not met since May of last year, when the Utes took down Cal 6-2.

Game 1

After being postponed from Thursday to Friday due to the rain and wind in Salt Lake, the Utes started the weekend with a doubleheader against their No. 18-ranked opponents. Cal was the first to bring the action, nailing down three runs in the top of the second after a pair of errors on the Utah side. For the first three innings, the Utes struggled to make any meaningful hits, with the team quickly turning it back over to the Golden Bears with multiple grounding outs. However, Utah’s turn came in the bottom of the fourth, when the energy exploded and the team found their footing.

Sophomore Abby Dayton got things started for the Utes, hammering a single to out to third to finally get on base. Sophie Jacquez followed the same, singling to left field and helping Dayton to second. After switching out with Shelbi Ortiz, who came in to pinch run, a passed ball pushed the two up while Haley Denning walked to first. Julia Jimenez came in with her own single, sending Dayton and Ortiz home for the Utes’ first two runs. 

At this point, Cal switched out pitchers in an attempt to curb Utah’s energy, but the effort was ultimately fruitless. Denning was able to sneak home after Reese Lee delivered a single of her own, but Jimenez was tagged out at home thanks to first base. Senior Aliya Belarde followed right behind Stella Bennett, who came in to pinch run for Emily Capobianco. One last single, this time from Kaylah Nelsen, sent the remaining three on base home, catapulting the Utes to a whopping 6-3.

The Golden Bears retaliated with another run in the fifth, but ultimately to no avail. Belarde returned with another single in the bottom of the sixth, helping the Utes arrive at their final score of 7-4 in a whirlwind of energy.

Game 2

Perhaps drained from the afternoon’s intense showdown, the two teams returned to Dumke Stadium an hour and a half later to play what would be a very low-scoring match. The game started out uncharacteristically quiet, with both sides struggling to get one base — save for the third inning, when Cal was able to advance all the way to second. A double in the fourth from the Golden Bears helped earn the team a run, which unfortunately remained the only run of the evening.

Ortiz almost got there for Utah in the sixth, but was tagged out at second before reaching any further. The Utes dropped the heartbreaker at a measly 0-1, but the team still had one more game to put the Golden Bears in their place.

Game 3

The Utes were the ones to open up the action Saturday afternoon, with Belarde singling up through the left side to immediately get on base. A wild pitch welcomed her to second, and a single from Denning helped her to third before a throwing error from second base gave Belarde time to get home. Denning nearly snagged a run of her own after reaching third, before Nelsen was tagged out at second, closing out the inning.

Cal came into the second inning with a run of their own, and again in the fourth after a pair of doubles. The match went quiet again until the sixth inning, with viewers fearing a repeat of the previous night’s heartbreak. Not willing to drop another game to the Golden Bears, the Utes came back in the bottom of the sixth to secure the game. Dayton walked at the start, when a single from Denning came in to get Dayton to second. With Denning out on the play, Nelsen was able to reach on the fielder’s choice, bringing Dayton further to third.

Sianni Sakai came in to pinch run for Nelsen, making it to second with a hit from Jacquez. Dayton secured her run after an error from the catcher, and one final hit from Jimenez handed Sakai a run of her own. Cal couldn’t match the energy in the seventh, and Utah took Saturday’s game 3-2.

What’s Next for the Utes?

Next weekend, Utah will welcome the University of Arizona Wildcats to Salt Lake City for another series of three, before making the trip up to Ogden to take on in-state rival Weber State.

 

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@abbey0thomas

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About the Contributor
Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor
Abbey Thomas started at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the fall of 2022 as a Sports Writer and is now Assistant Sports Editor for the desk. She is currently studying Cultural Anthropology with a minor in history and hopes to pursue medicine one day. Abbey is a die-hard fan of Real Salt Lake and Manchester City, and loves to travel and practice photography in her free time!

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