Utes stumble in return to Women’s College World Series, face elimination

Photo: NCAA Softball

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, June 2, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utes’ return to the tomen’s College World Series so far hasn’t gone as planned.

The University of Utah struggled offensively Friday afternoon, mustering just three hits and leaving nine runners on base in 4-1 loss to Washington in a game originally scheduled for Thursday night but delayed by inclement weather.

The loss and schedule change means the 15th-seeded Utes must return to USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium at 7:30 p.m. MDT tonight to face Oklahoma State in an elimination game. The sixth-seeded Cowgirls (44-14) lost 8-0 to Florida State on Thursday night.

“It was great to be here,” Utah head coach Amy Hogue said following the loss. “I mean, they worked so hard to have the opportunity to be here in the final eight. Although we didn’t play the way we wanted to today, they fought their guts out.”

Utes hurler Mariah Lopez (23-7) lost for only the second time in nine starts this postseason, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking one in six innings of work.

Hogue did not say whether Lopez would be back in the circle again Friday night.

“[I’m] really proud of what she did in the circle today,” she said.

While disappointed with their performance in the opener, the Utes remained confident heading into Friday night’s game.

“We’re just going to take our fight,” said Kendall Lundberg, who had an RBI double in the second inning to give the Utes an early 1-0 lead. “Honestly, no team is better than us at fighting back. I think that’s all we’ve got to do.”

There was little to cheer about for Utah following that early advantage, as Rylee Holtrof hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning to give the Huskies the lead for good. Holtrof finished the day 3-for-3 with all three Washington RBIs.

Huskies pitchers Ruby Meylan and Lindsay Lopez combined to allow just one run on three hits, with three strikeouts and five walks.

Haley Denning went 1-for-3 and had a double for Utah.

“I think they were calm enough, but when they had the opportunity to bang somebody in, they tried a little hard,” Hogue said of her hitters. “They were a little early, a little under it [or] just missed.”


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