Senior first baseman Tia Palauni had two hits and three RBI in Utah's first-ever Pac-12 win.
April 28, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - Senior first baseman Tia Palauni went 2-for-3 with three runs driven in to help the University of Utah softball team earn its first-ever Pac-12 Conference victory, 8-6 over No. 23 Oregon State, on Saturday at Ute Field.
Utah (26-22, 1-16 Pac-12) hitters went for four extra-base hits on the day against Oregon State, while the Utes held the Beavers to just a pair of doubles. The Utes were able to take advantage of scoring chances throughout the game as they scored four runs in the first inning and three in the fourth.
"It's nice to finally have the monkey off our back and get that first Pac-12 win," Utah head coach Amy Hogue said. "We earned this victory by making just enough plays to win. Having two big innings on the scoreboard is also a big deal for us. We haven't done that much yet [in Pac-12 play], so to have two big innings was great for us."
Palauni registered a single in the second and a three-run homer in the fourth. The Taylorsville, Utah native has six round-trippers this season and 23 over her career. Palauni stands third on the team with 14 extra-base hits this year and has 46 during her career. With three runs driven in today, Palauni pushed her season total to 21 and she now has 83 career RBI.
Freshman outfielder Kate Dickman was 2-for-3 as well with a pair of RBI. In her first at-bat of the day, Dickman tagged her first career home run in the first inning, a two-run shot over the center field fence. The Mission Viejo, Calif., native has driven in 19 runs this season.
Senior third baseman Whitney Holm posted a team-high three hits in four plate appearances to go with a run driven in. Holm, a Spanish Fork, Utah, native cracked an RBI double to center in the first, led off the third with a base hit, before hitting her first triple of the season (and first since 2010) down the right-field line in the fourth. With a double and triple on the day, Holm has a team-high 19 extra-base hits in 2012 and 73 for her career.
In the circle, freshman Mariah Ramirez pitched 5.0 innings of quality relief for the Utes to pick up the win and improve to 3-4 this season. The Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., native allowed two earned runs on seven hits, while striking out one and walking one.
"Mariah is really strong," Hogue said. "She's done a lot of good things for us. What she does is, she throws a lot of strikes and makes people earn their shot. She has a good defense behind her and she trusts them so she did exactly what we asked her to do."
The Beavers pushed a run across home plate in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Utes scored in the first inning for the fourth straight game beginning with Kelsi Hoopiiaina drawing a leadoff walk before junior outfielder Katelyn Elliott looped a solid one-out single to left-center field. Holm slapped a double over the head of the OSU center fielder to plate Hoopiiaina for the Utes' first run of the contest. Holm then launched a sacrifice fly to right field to allow Elliott to cross home plate. With two down, Dickman smacked her first career home run, a two-run shot over the center-field wall, to give Utah a 4-1 edge.
Utah has crossed the plate in the first frame 18 times this season and sports a 12-6 record in those contests.
Sophomore catcher Chalese Fankhauser started off the second frame with a bunt single before Hoopiiaina placed a sacrifice bunt two feet in front of home plate down the first-base line that allowed Fankhauser to advance two bases thanks to a piece of heads-up base running. She then plated the Utes' fifth run of the contest after a wild pitch from Oregon State pitcher Paige Hall.
After Oregon State cut into its deficit with a run in the third, Holm began the third inning by connecting for a single to left field, her second hit of the day. Taylor Austin was inserted into the lineup as a pinch runner and stole second before advancing to third after a base hit by Dickman. Unfortunately, the Beavers were able to get a ground ball rolled to first base for an unassisted putout.
Fankhauser grabbed the first out of the fourth inning by making a diving catch to her right to rob OSU's Lea Cavestany of extra bases. Unfortunately, the Beavers were able to bring their deficit down to one run with a pair of scores in the inning.
Fankhauser and Hoopiiaina drew leadoff walks to begin the bottom half of the fourth frame. Fankhauser stole third base and the trail runner Hoopiiaina took second base before Palauni converted the opportunity by smacking her sixth home run of the season to center field for three runs.
No. 23 Oregon State (32-16, 7-9 Pac-12) came back with a run apiece in both the fifth and sixth innings, but it wasn't enough as the Utah defense held its lead to preserve its first Pac-12 victory.
The Utes complete their series with the Beavers tomorrow at 12 p.m. MT. The play-by-play call and live stats will be available at utahutes.com.