In the Deseret First Duel, the only meeting for rivals BYU and Utah in the 2019 softball season, it was the Utes that bested BYU 11-2 Wednesday night at Gail Miller Field.
Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong for the Cougars.
In the very first inning Ally Dickman and Alyssa Barrera blasted home runs for the Utes, the latter a two-run shot that put Utah ahead, 3-0.
Though the Cougs plated one run in each of the next two innings, base-running blunders prevented the big inning.
In the bottom of the first BYU’s Rylee Jensen reached on a Ute error. The Utes recorded its first out via a spectacular catch by Barrera in center field. But Libby Sugg singled and pitcher Arissa Paulson looked to help her cause drawing a base on balls. Then Emilee Erickson’s hard single to through the left side of the infield scored Jensen and moved Paulson and Sugg to second and third respectively.
But on a wild pitch, Paulson was too aggressive as Sugg decided to stay at third. Ute catcher Katie Faulk showed great judgment retrieving the ball and then closing the distance on Paulson who had basically joined Sugg at third base. Paulson broke back to second and Faulk delivered a strike to Utah shortstop Ellessa Bonstrom who then charged Paulson back toward third where she was tagged out. Bonstrom nearly tagged out Sugg as well during the confusion but the Cougar made it back to the bag just in time.
Then with two outs BYU’s Olivia Sanchez hit a weak grounder to Ute pitcher Hailey Hilburn to end the threat.
After holding the Utes scoreless in the top of the second frame, BYU’s Marissa Chavez doubled. Brooke Vander Heide drew a walk. Riley Jensen singled to plate Chavez but when Vander Heide tried to go for third she was gunned down. Hilburn then was able to work out of the inning leaving the Utes ahead 3-2.
The Utes scored three runs in the third and tacked on another two runs in fourth before the game was stopped with a “sun delay” as when the sun sets low on the horizon, it is deemed to dangerous for the both the catcher and hitter to continue play. Though the game action was halted for nearly a half hour, it didn’t stop the festive atmosphere as children danced on top of both dugouts.
During the Ute scoring barrage in the third and fourth frames, the Cougars committed three errors and six total in the contest.
Sidney Sandez, who came in the third inning to relieve Ute starter Hilburn, was sharp in the third and fourth innings but after the sun delay struggled a bit giving up consecutive singles to Erickson and Sanchez. But Sandez struck out BYU’s Lexi Tarrow to end the scoring threat.
Utah then tacked on three more runs in the seventh to pour more salt in the Cougar’s wounds.
Erickson and Sugg led the Coug offensive attack with two hits apiece, while Dickman paced the Utes going 4-for 4 with a round tripper and three RBIs.
With the win, Utah moved to 16-32 overall with a 3-10 Pac-12 mark. The Utes will host Oregon in a three-game series Friday and Saturday while BYU (24-21, 8-1) will visit Saint Mary’s this weekend for a three-game set before returning home to host Colorado State Monday. The game with the Rams will have a 2:30 p.m. start.