Utes fall to Bruins in Pac-12 Championship – Deseret News

Sixth-seeded UCLA won the most recent Pac-12 softball tournament when Sharlize Palacios hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning to beat Utah 2-1 on Saturday night.

It was a defensive battle for most of the evening, with every run ending as a solo home run.

Utah pitcher Mariah Lopez threw a complete game and allowed just four hits and two runs – both solo hits.

Lopez managed to get out of some tough situations throughout the night. In the third inning she left two stranded and in the fourth inning, with a runner on third and one out, she struck out Ramsey Suarez and then induced a groundout by Thessa Malau'ulu to leave the inning unscathed.

“She was incredible. I wish we could have put together some hits and scored more runs for her because she threw one of the best games I've ever seen her throw in her career,” Utah coach Amy Hogue said.

UCLA pitchers Kaitlyn Terry and Taylor Tinsley were masterful, allowing just three hits and a solo home run.

“They made us hit balls. We shot ourselves in the foot with the same problem too many times during the season and she did a good job,” Hogue said.

“If she doesn't have to throw shots to get us out then she won't and so she kept making us chase balls and we weren't disciplined enough to adjust and so we got three hits achieved, and that simply won't work.”

The Bruins struck first in the bottom of the second inning after Jordan Woolery completely caught an off-speed pitch from Lopez and hit a home run over the centerfield wall.

The Utes prevailed in the top of the fifth inning with a two-out solo home run by pinch-hitter Karlie Davison that sent Terry deep to left-center field, tying the game at 1-1.

“I was really proud of Karlie for making a really difficult throw on the first pitch in that shot, something that a lot of us were attacking. She let it go and worked her way to a count that was really good to get a good pitch to hit and she hit it, so she did a good job of just earning that pitch and then obviously hitting it said Hogue.

After holding the Bruins scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning – after the leadoff batter reached on an error, Lopez retired the next three batters – the Utes fell to a double in the start of the sixth inning.

With the score tied at 3-2, Palacios sent a payoff pitch from Lopez over the left field wall as the Bruins reclaimed the lead.

“I think she's a hitter where you have to throw every pitch, a complete mix of pitches. She set up for a pitch that I thought hit a good spot, so you just have to put the upper hand on that hitter in that situation,” Hogue said.

Down to their final three outs, Utah's Sophie Jacquez, Julia Jimenez and Shonty Passi were retired in order by Tinsley as the Bruins moved to the circle to celebrate victory in the final Pac-12 Softball Tournament.

With an RPI of 40 on Sunday's NCAA Tournament selection show (5 p.m. MDT, ESPN2), a series win over then-No. 9 Washington ended the regular season and victories over No. 22 Oregon and No. 8 Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament strengthened Utah's winning record.

“We needed every bit of that to position ourselves and yeah, we'll be ready to go somewhere and hopefully get off to a good start in the postseason,” Hogue said.

The Utes should do well in the NCAA Tournament, which would be their second straight appearance. Last year, the Utes went to the College World Series for the first time since 1994 after defeating San Diego State in the Super Region.

Anna Harden

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