PROVO, Utah – Coming off of a heartbreaker in Provo, the University of Utah softball team was hoping to get themselves back on track against the Arizona Wildcats this weekend in Tucson. Instead of finding their oasis in the desert, the Ute bats went into a drought as they lost all four games, dropping them to a season-worst six games below 0.500 with a record of 17-23.
In her sixth start of the season, Mary Beth Feldman set down the Wildcats 1-2-3 in the first inning. Unfortunately for Feldman and the Utes, they wouldn’t have another clean inning as the Wildcats exploded for five home runs, including two from Sharlize Palacios. Arizona scored six runs in the second inning, two more in the third, followed by four in the fourth inning on their way to building a 12-0 lead.
The Utes could not string together multiple hits all game long, posting only five hits as a team. A fifth-inning home run from Destiny Quiles (2), her second in as many games, prevented the Utes from being shutout.
Feldman (1-2) took the loss for Utah, and Hanah Bowen (5-1) went the distance for Arizona in her sixth complete game of the season.
Nothing went right for the Utes in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. Arizona’s offense went supernova, scoring 14 runs in the first three innings, including a nine-run third inning thanks to three home runs in the frame.
Jordyn Gasper, Halle Morris and Haley Denning accounted for all three Ute hits in the game as Utah was shutout for just the third time this season and the first time since an 8-0 loss to Stanford on March 27.
Mariah Lopez fell to 4-10 on the season after giving up 10 runs across 2.1 innings pitched and Alyssa Denham (15-5) got the win for Arizona.
Utah showed great resolve in the nightcap game. It would be understandable coming off of a 14-0 defeat for the Utes to hang their heads and start looking ahead to Sunday’s game, but that’s not the type of program head coach Amy Hogue has built. Though they lost the game 6-4, there was no quit in this team.
Alyssa Barrera led off with her fourth home run of the season, giving the Utes their first lead in three games. The lead was short-lived though because Utah starter Sydney Sandez gave up a bottom of the first grand slam to Palacios, her fourth long ball of the series.
Quiles continued her recent hot stretch with a fourth-inning home run to the left that cut the Arizona lead in half, 4-2. Two more Wildcat runs in the fifth extended the lead to four, 6-2.
Julia Noskin wrapped up the scoring when she brought around Ellessa Bonstrom and Barrera with a double to left in the sixth.
Sandez (8-6) settled in nicely after the first-inning grand slam and finished the game with her second complete game of the season in the 6-4 loss. Lopez (7-2) got the win for Arizona.
Hoping to salvage the weekend series with a Sunday afternoon win, Sandez (8-7) took the ball once again and threw more than five strong innings, allowing only three runs. Sandez first stepped into the circle with a 1-0 lead thanks to Bonstrom’s first-inning homer, her team-leading 13th of the season.
Unfortunately for Utah, the offense once again struggled mightily against difficult Arizona players, this time with Bowen (6-1) throwing a seven-inning complete game. Utah would not score again until a Quiles RBI flyout in the sixth that wrapped up the scoring in a 3-2 loss.
The Utes have now lost five consecutive games and will be coming home and looking to return to their winning ways with a Wednesday afternoon, non-conference doubleheader against the Idaho State Bengals (7-24). The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. MDT at Dumke Family Softball stadium. Tickets can be purchased here, and the game will be streamed live here.