Freshman Kayce Nieto did not allow an earned run on only three hits with a career-high five strikeouts on Wednesday at. No. 20/23 Hawaii.
March 14, 2013
HONOLULU, Hawaii - Freshman Kayce Nieto and junior Naomi Amu both turned in impressive pitching performances, but the University of Utah softball team was edged twice in a pair of hard-luck losses against Syracuse (3-2) and No. 20/23 Hawaii (1-0 in eight innings) on Wednesday during the first day of the Chevron Spring Fling Tournament at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Complex.
Syracuse 3, Utah 2
Unfortunately, Utah (13-8-1) had its 12-game unbeaten streak snapped after dropping a 3-2 decision to Syracuse in the first game of the day.
Junior pitcher Naomi Amu recorded her third straight complete-game effort as she only gave up one earned run on nine hits, while striking out a career-high of five to keep the Utes in the game. Unfortunately, Amu was dealt her first loss in a pitching decision since Feb. 10, but she still holds a 7-3 record this season.
Five different Utes registered hits for the Ute as sophomore Mariah Ramirez came through with a run-scoring single for her eighth RBI of the season.
The Orange jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third, but Utah quickly retaliated with a run in its half of the frame as junior third baseman Taylor Austin drew a leadoff walk and would score on the next play after a Syracuse error on a sacrifice bunt laid down by senior first baseman Katelyn Elliott.
The Utes then tied the contest up in the bottom of the sixth frame as sophomore left fielder Kate Dickman reached base on a throwing error by the Orange catcher then advanced to second base after a sacrifice bunt by junior center fielder Chalese Fankhauser. Dickman then too third base after an SU wild pitch before Ramirez looped an RBI single through the left side of the defensive alignment to push Dickman across the plate.
Syracuse's Shirley Daniels broke the 2-2 tie with a solo homer in the top of the seventh to set the final margin in favor of the Orange at 3-2.
No. 20/23 Hawaii 1, Utah 0 (8 innings)
Freshman right-hander Kayce Nieto was impressive in just her second start of the season in the second game of the day against the tournament host, No. 20/23 Hawaii.
After getting out of a second-inning jam unscathed, Nieto retired 14 consecutive Rainbow Wahine hitters. All told, Nieto did not allow an earned run on only three hits in 7.1 innings of work to go with a career-high five strikeouts. Unfortunately, the Farmington Hills, Mich., native had to settle for the loss and is now 2-2 this season.
The contest was a defensive struggle throughout as each team had one hit apiece through seven innings. Ramirez turned in Utah's lone hit of the contest, a single to center field in the top of the fourth.
Senior second baseman Jackie Sweet was placed on second base at the beginning of the eighth inning after international tie-breaker rules went into effect. Unfortunately, Hawaii was able to strike out the side to keep the Utes off the scoreboard.
In Hawaii's half of the eighth, Sharla Kliebenstein started at second base and Jazmine Zamora place a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line to move Kliebenstein to third. Alyssa Villalpando then singled to the right side of the Ute defense and Kliebenstein plated the only score of the contest.
Leisha Li'ili'had two of Hawaii's three hits off Nieto.
There is no let-up in Utah's schedule as the Utes take on No. 19/15 Baylor tomorrow at 2 p.m. HT.