OKLAHOMA CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah softball team had to wait an extra day to open its first Women’s College World Series in 29 years because a weather delay, and the Utes were silenced by Washington in a 4-1 loss Friday afternoon.
Utah (42-15) will now play Oklahoma State (46-15) at 7:30 p.m. tonight in an elimination game. The Cowgirls lost their first game to Florida State, 8-0.
“It just hurt my heart because they were ready to do it,” said Utah head coach Amy Hogue. “They tried a little too hard, and when they do that, it doesn’t work out very well. Although we didn’t play the way we wanted to today, they showed up and fought their guts out. Trying harder isn’t always better, so they’re going to find a better way to do it tonight.”
Utah jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Kendall Lundberg doubled home Haley Denning.
But Washington took the lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run home run from Rylee Hortorf, the first home run given up by Utes pitcher Mariah Lopez in the postseason.
After stranding the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, the Utes gave up an insurance run to the Huskies when Hortorf drove in her third run of the game with an RBI single up the middle.
Olivia Johnson brought in the final run for Washington on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
Utah managed just three hits off of Washington pitchers Ruby Meylan and Lindsay Lopez, who struck out three Utes and shut Utah out the final five innings of the game.
“We’re just going to take our fight (into the game tonight),” said Lundberg. “Honestly, no team is better than us at fighting back, and that’s all we’ve got to do.”
Mariah Lopez went the distance on the mound for the Utes, giving up four runs on seven hits, while striking out five.
“There’s always things to improve on and we can just work from there and get after it later today,” Lopez said.
Washington moves on to play Florida State in the winner’s bracket. Utah will now need to win four straight games in order to move on to the championship series.
“It’s going to be tough,” Hogue said. “But like they said, they’re tough. The last time we got beat, we killed somebody (in the next game). So the pressure is off if they felt any pressure today, it’s off. Now they’re playing for a day off and some more fun together.”
Utah is playing in its first Women’s College World Series since 1994.