Senior first baseman Tia Palauni homered in her third straight game Friday at No. 3 Washington.
March 23, 2012
SEATTLE - Senior first baseman Tia Palauni hit a home run in her third consecutive game, but the University of Utah softball team fell to No. 3 Washington, 5-1, in its inaugural Pac-12 Conference game Friday at Husky Softball Stadium.
Utah (21-6, 0-1 Pac-12) had its four-game win streak snapped by Washington, but did record its fourth consecutive game without being charged with an error. The Utes are 3-1 in those contests and are 7-3 this season when not committing an error in the field.
Palauni led the Ute offense by hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth. Palauni has homered in each of the last three games and has four round-trippers this season and 13 over her career. The Taylorsville, Utah native has 12 RBI this season and has driven in 45 runs during her career.
The Utes are now fourth in the Pac-12 with 33 home runs hit this season.
Utah did muster six hits as a team, compared to eight for Washington. Freshman outfielder Kate Dickman posted a team-high two hits for the Utes in three at-bats. The Mission Viejo, Calif., native has now had two or more hits in five games during her first season with the Utes. She also extended her current hitting streak to three games.
In the circle, senior Generra Nielson went 5.0 innings in her 22nd start of the season. She allowed five earned runs on seven hits, while fanning six Huskies and only walking one. Unfortunately, her three-game win streak in pitching decisions was snapped as she took the loss and fell to 15-5 in 2012 and is now 36-17 for her career at Utah. With six strikeouts in the Pac-12 opener, Nielson has 186 strikeouts this year and 384 over her career at Utah.
Sophomore Naomi Amu came on in her 12th appearance of the season to threw the final frame, the bottom of the sixth, and kept the Huskies off the scoreboard while giving up one hit.
Washington finally broke the lid on the scoring after 2.5 innings with a run in the bottom of the third, beginning when Kimi Pohlman knocked a single through the right side of the Ute defense. Pohlman stole second base and then with two down, Kaitlin Inglesby looped a double to right to right field that allowed Pohlman to cross home plate for the first score of the contest.
The Huskies added four runs in the fifth inning as Marki Creger-Zier came up with a pinch-hit single to left field and then advanced to second with a stolen base. Victoria Hayward then laid down a sacrifice bunt that allowed Creger-Zier to move to third before a fielder's choice hit by Pohlman allowed Washington's second run to cross home plate. Nikia Williams' single to center field off a full-count delivery from Nielson then allowed Pohlman to score. Inglesby followed and gave the Huskies a 5-0 lead with a two-run homer
Palauni responded with a solo home run to lead off the top of the sixth inning off a 2-1 pitch from Inglesby over the left-center field fence to score Utah's first-ever run in Pac-12 play.
The second game of Utah's first-ever Pac-12 series will be played tomorrow at 4 p.m. PT. Links to the live video stream and live stats can be found at utahutes.com.