Freshman right-hander Kayce Nieto allowed only four hits on one earned run during Saturday's 8-4 win over No. 17/21 Arizona.
March 30, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY - Freshman right-hander Kayce Nieto allowed only one earned run on four hits in an impressive complete-game performance to lead the Utes to their first-ever victory at Utah Softball Stadium by an 8-4 score over No. 17/21 Arizona on Saturday in the finale of their Pac-12 Conference series.
Nieto turned in an efficient complete-game effort, her third of the season, on the mound for Utah (14-16-1, 1-5 Pac-12) to improve to 3-4 this season. The Farmington Hills, Mich., native allowed only one earned run on four hits in 7.0 innings and only issued one walk.
"Kayce was phenomenal," Utah Head coach Amy Hogue said. "To have the first win in this ballpark come from a freshman with a four-hitter against a team of this caliber was exciting for the program. I can't say enough about her. She walked one and didn't strike out anybody, but she didn't need to. She gave the ball to her defense and got hitters out in a hurry. She didn't waste time and has some really quick innings, which gets your offense back in the dugout and keeps them aggressive."
That Ute offense out-hit the Wildcats 8-4 on the day and four of its hits were for extra bases.
Senior second baseman Jackie Sweet continued her tear with a 2-for-3 performance at the play with three runs driven in and two runs scored. Sweet has hit safely in each of Utah's last seven games and has five games this season with two or more hits and boasts four games with at least two RBI this season. She has been credited with 13 RBI this season and has driven in 53 runs for her career.
"Jackie is having fun," Hogue said. "We moved her into the two-hole a little bit ago and she's turned a corner. She did the same thing last year. Both Jackie and Kate (Dickman) had better success once we reached the Pac-12 last year and they're doing it again this year. They've been big for us and we hope that continues as we have Oregon and UCLA next week."
From the leadoff spot, junior center fielder Chalese Fankhauser had three hits in four at-bats with an RBI and a run scored. The South Jordan, Utah native has eight multi-hit outings this season. She has hit four triples this season and now has six during her career as a Ute.
Utah benefitted from a quick start after scoring seven runs in three of its first four at-bats.
Sweet jacked a deep home run to center field over the center-field operations tent at Utah Softball Stadium for her second round-tripper in as many days. The Corona, Calif., native has two homers this season and 12 for her career.
The Wildcats came back to capture the lead with a three-run third.
"That was a big inning for Arizona, but because of the fact that it could have put us down, but we answered right back," Hogue said. "We talk about `We do. They don't. We do.' That means that we score, they don't, then we score again. We've been struggling doing that third part. We'll score and then hold them, but then we haven't been scoring again. We won two games in the Pac-12 last year and that was the difference. We have to have two big innings, not just one. You can get a team to disappear a little bit on you if you find a way to score, hold them and the score again. After they scored, we answered and then answered again. I thought at that point, the ball game was ours."
Fankhauser started off Utah's third with a double through the right-field gap and Sweet tagged an RBI double over the Arizona center fielder to drive Fankhauser in for her 13th RBI of the season to tie the game at three runs apiece. Sweet then crossed home plate to give Utah a 4-3 lead after Pacheco drove a single up the middle for her 16th RBI of the season.
The Utes added to their lead when sophomore right-fielder Shelbi Everett drew a leadoff walk to start Utah's fourth and then scored from first after an RBI double of the left-field fence by Stewart, which was her fifth RBI of the season. Fankhauser then laced a single to left field to chase Arizona starting pitcher Shelby Babcock. With two out against Wildcat reliever Estela Pinon, Arizona's second baseman dropped a fly ball hit by Utah's senior shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina that allowed Stewart and Fankhauser to cross home plate to cap the Utes' three-run frame.
Arizona came back with one score in its fifth-inning at-bat, but Utah got that run back in the sixth as Stewart drew a two-out walk then scored after Fankhauser's triple to left-center field set the final margin at 8-4 in favor of the Utes.
No. 17/21 Arizona (23-11, 3-3 Pac-12) received a 2-for-3, three-RBI day from catcher Chelsea Goodacre, but Babcock's record fell to 11-4 this season after allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings.
The Utes continue Pac-12 play with a mid-week series at No. 10/10 Oregon, beginning Tuesday at 3 p.m. PT.