No. 15 Utah survives slugfest vs. Southern Illinois in NCAA Regional opener
SALT LAKE CITY – Karlie Davison homered, drove in five runs and put No. 15-seed Utah in front for good with a go-ahead, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to lead the Utes past the Southern Illinois Salukis, 11-9, in both teams' NCAA Regional opener on Friday afternoon at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium.
The Utes, who are now 38-13 in 2023, will move on to play the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT with a spot in the regional final on the line. Utah's 38 wins are the most in a single season since they won 40 games in 2006.
"First win for the Utes in postseason for a long time," said head coach Amy Hogue. "I was really proud of what they did endure the ups and downs of that game. There were many, but our offense really took control. I'm proud of them for controlling this game and winning this game."
Utah's offensive onslaught started right away, as singles from Aliya Belarde, Julia Jimenez and Sophie Jacquez plated the game's first run and another RBI knock, this one by Abby Dayton, made the score 2-0. Davison then blasted a three-run homer to center to cap her team's first inning eruption. Jacquez struck again with another RBI single in the second that boosted the Utes' lead to 6-0.
The Salukis refused to be bamboozled by this early deficit and started the third by stringing together six straight hits that brought in four runs and a Sidney Jones sacrifice fly tallied the fifth run of the frame to slice Utah's lead to one. The Utes quickly answered, however, thanks to a Belarde two-run knock in the bottom of the third that upped Utah's advantage to three.
An Ellessa Bonstrom RBI double in the fifth made the score 9-5, but SIU's offense came to life again in the sixth, using an error, a walk, two singles and a two-run Rylie Hamilton double to draw level. The Salukis had a chance to pull ahead later in the frame, but Mariah Lopez escaped a bases-loaded jam and the game remained tied.
Despite SIU's comeback, Utah's lineup had one more rally in their bones and it started with singles from Jacquez and Dayton that brought up Davison. The Utes' freshman shortstop roped a 2-0 pitch into left-center, bringing in both runners to give the home team one more lead. Lopez allowed a lead-off single in the seventh, but set down the next three hitters to seal the victory.
Bonstrom's run-scoring double in the fifth put her at 175 career RBIs, tying the program record set by Cyndee Bennett.
We could get 𝘜𝘵𝘦𝘴 to this! 🙌
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