SEATTLE (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes softball team is still alive.
Freshmen Kelly Martinez and BreOnna Castaneda both homered and classmate Alyssa Barrera reached base four times as Utah Softball lived to play another day with a thrilling 9-8 victory over Washington in game two of their NCAA Super Regional series.
Katie Donovan earned her 18th win of the season, striking out three batters in 4 2/3 innings. Miranda Viramontes entered in relief and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing just one run and helping the Utes to victory.
Taran Alvelo suffered the loss, allowing seven runs in 2 2/3 frames. Entering tonight, she was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA against the Utes this season. Samantha Manti went the final 3 1/3, giving up two runs on four hits.
“This team is one game away from going to the World Series,” Utah head coach Amy Hogue said. “We’ve not been able to say that before and I guarantee that’s not going to get old. We’re going to keep saying it all night tonight and all day tomorrow until this thing’s over.”
Washington loaded the bases to start the game but Donovan induced a grounder to Urtez who got a force at home. The next batter lined one straight to Kay Kay Fronda in left to keep it scoreless
The Huskies threatened again in the second putting a pair of runners on with two outs. However, Donovan blew it by Bates on three pitches to bring the inning to a close.
Utah got on the board in the bottom half when Bridget Castro singled to extend her on-base streak to 20 games and Martinez followed with her second homer in as many nights for a 2-0 lead. It was the freshman’s eighth homer of the season, good for second on the team.
UW responded in the third when Morganne Flores cracked her third homer in the Super Regional, a two-run shot that gave her 16 runs batted in over five games against the Utes this season. Julie DePonte added a two-run homer of her own a couple batters later as Washington went in front, 4-2.
The resilient Utes fought back in the third, putting seven runs on the board against Taran Alvelo. Alyssa Barrera walked and an error on a Hannah Flippen bunt put a pair of runners in scoring position. Then, Anissa Urtez placed a double down the right-field line to pull the Utes within one.
The Utes were unable to pull of a squeeze play successfully but the UW catcher dropped the ball as Flippen approached home plate and successfully scored to tie the game. Heather Bowen followed with a sacrifice fly to push the Utes ahead, 5-4.
As the inning continued, Kay Kay Fronda smashed a single off the wall in right to bring Alvelo’s evening to a close. Two batters later, Castaneda uncorked a three-run homer for a 9-4 advantage.
From that point, it was a matter of hanging on for Utah Softball. Taylor Van Zee got the home side back in the game with a two-run double in the fourth but Miranda Viramontes avoided more trouble in the fifth by ringing up Ali Aguilar and getting Sis Bates to hit a ball back to her in the circle.
With the bases loaded, Kirstyn Thomas hit a dribbler that stayed fair along the third base line to add another run to the UW tally. Castro was able to field a grounder from the next batter to keep it a two-run game.
Donovan re-entered in the seventh and allowed a one-out double to Bates who then scored on a Casey Stangel sac fly. The junior responded by getting Flores to ground to Flippen and end the ball game.
Utah and Washington will play a deciding Game 3 Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. mountain time.
If the Utes win, they will advance to the College Softball World Series for the first time since 1994.