SALT LAKE CITY – For the 17th time in program history, the University of Utah softball team is preparing for the NCAA Tournament and the Utes will start the tournament by playing a regional on their home field and clashing with the Southern Illinois Salukis on Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. MT at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium.
Utah will play its second game on Saturday, either at 1 p.m. or 3:30 p.m., with a third Saturday contest taking place at 6 p.m. Sunday will consist of either one or two games for the remaining two teams, with the first pitch being thrown at 12 p.m.
Utah vs. Southern Illinois
How to Follow
Fans can catch Utah’s Friday matchup on ESPN+ and every game at the Salt Lake City regional will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.
Last Time Out
The Utes earned the right to host this regional by closing the season with six straight wins, five of which came at the expense of ranked opponents and that last three led to the Utes claiming the first-ever Pac-12 Tournament Championship.
Nobody has played a more critical role in Utah’s run than pitcher Mariah Lopez, who, after shutting down Oregon in back-to-back starts, one of which was a no-hitter, tossed a pair of complete games in the Pac-12 Tournament to earn most outstanding player honors. In her last 17 appearances in the circle, only No. 5 Washington has tagged Lopez for more than three runs and she’s lowered her ERA from 3.00 on April 8 to 2.33, which puts her in the top 10 in the Pac-12. Her 166 strikeouts for the season are also the most by a Utah pitcher since 2012.
Utah’s lineup was led by all-tournament selections Sophie Jacquez, Ellessa Bonstrom and Julia Jimenez, all of whom hit over .300 in Tucson and Bonstrom and Jimenez both went deep in Utah’s semifinal win over the Huskies. Jacquez had a hit in all three contests and got the tournament started by going 3-for-3 with two RBIs as Utah knocked off California. The Utes hit .352 as a team in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Another red-hot bat was swung by freshman Karlie Davison, who homered in two of Utah’s three matches and is now tied for the team-lead in four-baggers with nine. Davison has hit safely in six consecutive contests.
Scouting the Opposition
Friday’s festivities will mark the first time ever the Utes and the Salukis have locked horns and it…