Sophomore Mariah Ramirez went 4-for-6 at the plate and threw 9.0 innings on the mound during Sunday's doubleheader against No. 2/3 Arizona State.
April 21, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY - Sophomore Mariah Ramirez went 4-for-6 at the plate and pitched 9.0 innings to help the University of Utah softball team split a doubleheader with No. 2/3 Arizona State in Pac-12 Conference action on Sunday at Utah Softball Stadium.
The Utes clinched their second straight Pac-12 home series victory with a 6-5 win during the first game of the day, but ASU came back to avoid the sweep with a 6-4 win in the finale. Utah also took two of three from No. 15 UCLA Apr. 6-7 in Salt Lake City.
"This team has elevated our program after winning series against UCLA and Arizona State," Utah Head Coach Amy Hogue said. "They have proven that this is not a fluke and we're not a team to look past."
Utah (21-24-1, 6-12 Pac-12) received an impressive versatile performance from Ramirez throughout the day. She led the Utes with four hits in six at-bats for a .667 batting average to go with an RBI in addition to posting a 3.89 ERA in 9.0 innings on the mound, allowing a total of five earned runs on 11 hits with five walks and four strikeouts.
Freshman third baseman Kristen Stewart took team-high honors with three RBI, including her fourth home run of the year, which gave her a 1.250 slugging percentage. The Covina, Calif., native has now driven in 14 runs this season.
Game 1: Utah 6, No. 2/3 Arizona State 5
Utah clinched the series victory over Arizona State with a 6-5 win in the first game of the day, which was also the Utes' second straight series victory over a Pac-12, after taking two of three from No. 15 UCLA on Apr. 6-7.
Stewart drove in a team-high two runs for her eighth multi-RBI effort of the year, while Ramirez and junior center fielder Chalese Fankhauser both went 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI apiece.
Freshman pitcher Kayce Nieto allowed four earned runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings of work, while walking two Sun Devil hitters to improve to 7-5 this season and is now 4-0 in 2013 in home games against league opponents.
Ramirez came on in relief for 2.0 shutout innings, giving up one hit and only walk.
The Utes put four runs on the board in the first frame. Senior shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina led off, but was robbed of her seventh homer of the year by the ASU left fielder, who reached over the fence to make a spectacular catch.
Utah kept the pressure on, however, as senior second baseman Jackie Sweet led off with a walk to extend her reached base streak to 21 games. Then Dickman and Fankhauser both singled to right field to load the bases for the Utes. Stewart then singled down the right-field line to push Sweet and Dickman across home plate for the first two scores of the game, which were also Stewart's 12th and 13th RBI of the season. Sophomore Marissa Mendenhall followed by rolling an RBI ground ball to the Sun Devils second baseman that allowed Fankhauser to score that doubled as Mendenhall's 20th RBI on the year. Ramirez kept the rally going with an RBI single to left-center field, for her 11th run driven in this season, as Dickman ran home.
Utah is now 15-5 this season when scoring in the first frame of a contest.
The Sun Devils cut their deficit in half with a pair of runs in the top of the second, but senior first baseman Katelyn Elliott started things off with a double through the right-center field gap of the ASU outfield, her third double on the season, and she advanced to third base after Hoopiiaina dropped down her eighth sacrifice bunt of the year. Sweet converted on the scoring chance by lacing an RBI single to right field. The Corona, Calif., native has now driven in 23 runs this season.
ASU scored a run each in the third, fourth and fifth frames to pull within a run, but Utah came away with the 6-5 victory.
Mackenzie Popescue was dealt the loss in the decision after giving up six earned runs on seven hits, while walking one, in 1.2 innings. She is now 16-3 on the year. Amber Freeman and Sam Parlich went 2-for-4, while pinch hitter Jennifer Soria drove in two runs.
Game 2: No. 2/3 Arizona State 6, Utah 4
The Sun Devils were able to salvage the third game of the series by recovering from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits to claim a 6-4 victory in the second game of the day's twin bill.
Ramirez registered her sixth complete game of the season on the mound in the second game of the day, allowing five earned runs on 10 hits in 7.0 innings, while striking out two and walking four. Unfortunately, the Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., native saw her record this season dip to 7-10.
"Our pitchers kept us in it," Hogue said. "Mariah kept Arizona State off the scoreboard with a bunch of zeroes early in the second game. Our offense took too long to adjust. We need to score earlier and adjust earlier. We just didn't do that."
Sweet then reached the game for the 22nd straight after hitting a single to right field in the bottom of the first inning.
After four scoreless innings, ASU finally broke through with an unearned run in the fifth, but Ramirez responded by looping her fifth double of the year through the left-center field gap. Pacheco looped another double to left-center that left Ute runners on second and third base. Hoopiiaina then lofted a sacrifice fly to right field to score pinch runner Sandi Fawson for the equalizer. Pacheco then crossed home plate after a miscue by the ASU shortstop on a ball hit by Sweet to give Utah a 2-1 edge. Dickman roped a double through the right-center gap that allowed Sweet to score from first for Dickman's second RBI of the day.
The Sun Devils managed to tie the game at three runs apiece after Alix Johnson homered to center field.
Stewart launched the second pitch she saw in the bottom half of the frame for her fourth round-tripper of the season off ASU's Dallas Escobedo to regain the lead for Utah, 4-3. Unfortunately, Parlich turned on a full-count three-run homer to set the final margin at 6-4 in favor of the Sun Devils.
Arizona State (39-7, 10-5 Pac-12) was led by a complete-game effort from Escobedo on the mound, who allowed two earned runs on seven hits to improve to 22-4 this year.
The Utes head south to Cedar City for their final non-conference games in a doubleheader at Southern Utah on Wednesday. First pitch from Kathryn Berg Field is set for 12 p.m. MT and live stats will be available at utahutes.com.