Utes take series, improve conf. record

S-Softball Colby Patterson
Anissa Urtez bunts a ball at a game against Oregon earlier this month. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Anissa Urtez bunts a ball at a game against Oregon earlier this month. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Utah improved its conference record over the weekend winning two of three games against Stanford at home. Thanks to a strong hitting performance, the Utes registered an astounding 32 runs in the three-game set — more runs than the previous six games they played combined.

Head coach Amy Hogue was ecstatic over the series win and is hoping this weekend will set her team up for the near future.

“Awesome,” Hogue said. “We won the series against a team we haven’t won a series from before. So going from this point forward, I think that we set ourselves up for an opportunity to be considered for an at-large bid. I am excited for what is in front of us.”

Early in the series, Utah struggled on defense as the Cardinal had the upper hand in game one, scoring seven runs in the first two innings. The Utes made up some of the ground in the second and third innings as they scored a single run in each, but it wasn’t until the fourth and fifth frames that Utah really got it going. The Utes put four more runs on the scoreboard in the fourth inning to pull within one, but in the fifth inning, freshman Anissa Urtez blasted a grand slam to bring in an additional four runs for Utah.

“It’s a good feeling,” Urtez said. “It makes me wanna win. It makes me get everyone going, get everyone in the game.”

Another RBI from junior Mariah Ramirez made it a five-run fifth frame, which ultimately gave the Utes a 12-7 win.

The second game saw some more hitting and some more runs scores. Sophomore Kristen Stewart recorded a grand slam of her own in the first inning, while Marissa Mendenhall joined in on the home run barrage by hitting an additional solo shot the very next at-bat. A total of seven runs were scored in the first inning, which was more than enough to seal a 8-3 victory over the Cardinal.

“I feel like this is a great hitting team that we were facing,” Hogue said. “We did a nice job keeping them off balance and getting them to hit into the spots we wanted them to hit into. We made a lot of plays, scored a lot of runs and it gave us opportunities to win all three games this weekend.”

In the final game of the series, Utah was hoping for a third win to complete the sweep over Stanford. The Utes started strong, scoring 10 runs in the first three innings and it looked like it would be smooth sailing for Utah’s sixth conference win. The Cardinal never gave up, however, and put seven runs on the board in the top of the sixth , knotting the game up at 10.

In the final inning, Stanford recorded two runs to grab the lead, putting all the pressure on the Utes. While it did score one run in that final frame, Utah could not complete the comeback and dropped the game, 12-11.

“It’s just a disappointment losing by one in the last inning,” Urtez said. “I think we were just having trouble executing and pushing the runners in. Other than that, I felt that we were doing a good job throughout the whole game.”

Utah will continue its season Monday in a doubleheader against UVU. The first game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. MT at Utah Softball Stadium.

d.garcia@chronicle.utah.edu