SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Mariah Lopez threw a complete game and struck out ten batters, as the Utah softball team advanced to the NCAA Regional Final with a 7-1 victory over Ole Miss Saturday afternoon.
Lopez allowed just one run on six hits for her 20th victory of the season.
“Early in the game I was a little nervous,” Lopez said. “I was feeling those emotions, but I kind of just talked with my pitching coach. We were winning at the time, so pitch with a lead. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”
Ellessa Bonstrom became Utah’s all-time RBI leader with her 176th coming as part of a four-run sixth inning to blow the game open.
“I’m so proud of this group,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “I felt a lot like yesterday, in that there were a lot of pieces that were put together. Aggressive base running, clutch hitting, all of the above. So, it was a great team win.”
After Lopez escaped a bases loaded jam with a strikeout in the first inning, Abby Dayton brought home Shelbi Ortiz with a ground out in the top of the second inning to give Utah a 1-0 lead.
Ole Miss tied the game in the third inning on an RBI triple by Keila Kamoku. But the Utes used two sacrifice flies by Kendall Lundberg and Ortiz in the top of the fourth to take a 3-1 lead.
Aliya Belarde started the four-run sixth inning with a two-run double down the left field line to give the Utes a 5-1 advantage. Bonstrom then lined an RBI triple off the glove of a diving Jalia Lassiter in centerfield to make it 6-1.
“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” Bonstrom said. “I just need to get the job done, and when I saw the pitch coming in, I knew that was the pitch that I could do it on.”
Sophie Jacquez capped the inning with another sacrifice fly to make it a 7-1 game.
Utah (39-13) will take on the winner of tonight’s elimination game between Ole Miss and Baylor for the regional championship Sunday at noon. Utah will have to be defeated twice to be eliminated.