Utah Uses Two-Run Homer In First to Power Past Kentucky

Box Score (PDF) | Quotes (PDF)

Utah junior shortstop Anissa Urtez hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning and sophomore pitcher Katie Donovan shut the door on the Kentucky offense, powering the Utes to a 2-0 victory over Kentucky in the winner’s bracket game Saturday at John Cropp Stadium. The win advances Utah to the regional final Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, while Kentucky will play in the elimination game against the winner of Butler and Illinois later Saturday.
    
Donovan was brilliant in the circle, tossing 6.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and no walks allowed. The win moves her to 19-10 on the season. She was replaced in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs and two runners on by Miranda Viramontes, who got a strikeout to end the threat. Kentucky senior pitcher Kelsey Nunley received the loss, allowing three runs in seven innings with four strikeouts. The loss moves Nunley to 20-6 on the season. 
    
A one-out walk to Utah second baseman Hannah Flippen in the top of the first inning started the rally for the Utes before Urtez hit her fourth home run of the season to give Utah an early lead. The Utes added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning after a leadoff double by Delilah Pacheco, who moved to third on an error and later scored on a sacrifice bunt. 
    
Kentucky had only four hits in the game, with freshman infielder Abbey Cheek going 2-for-3 with a double and single, while seniors Sylver Samuel and Nikki Sagermann each had singles. 

Utah Head Coach Amy Hogue
Opening statement ...
“Proud of the way we came out in the first inning, that’s so critical in a game like this, at somebody else’s house to put runs up early, and pitch with confidence. I think it made the difference in the game.”

On being one game away from the super regional...
“I think that the team, again, are gaining a lot of confidence in themselves today. That’s a big win for them and everyone in that locker room knows that that’s a great team we just beat and we have to come back with every bit of everything we had today, we have to bring it tomorrow. And, that’s what we plan on trying to do.”

On confidence level since you’ve met Kentucky before...
“I think that it always helps when you see someone multiple times. I think that even if you don’t hit it, you learn as you see more and more pitches. She’s got so many pitches, which is why she can beat you multiple times because she can do it different ways. I think that every time we see her and we see all the stuff she’s got, it benefits us, so, I think that’s why it’s important for us to have both of our pitchers ready at all times because that’s part of how you win a series and that’s what it’s about right now is winning two out of three on the road against Kentucky. So, we planned on needing all of our pitching staff and we got two wins now, and we are one big win away.”

On the fifth inning ... 
“We just talked about that in the locker room, about how much our infield, our whole defense plays with such confidence and you know if you give us something we’ll take it, then you know we got caught leaning and we got caught leaning again and before you know it we got both of them and you know our defense, if you hesitate or if you fear the balls wet, you know, I mean you can’t make a play like that. But this infield we have has played together for so long and that play and the delay steal attempt in the first inning, our infield is confident, and you know they were trying to take something, and you know props to them for doing that, that’s what both teams are trying to do is trying to make some chaos happen, but we stayed in control and made the right plays and that was a big turn of events for us for sure.

Utah Student-Athletes


#13 Katie Donovan, P
On being one game away from the super regional...
“It gives us a lot of confidence going forward. Tomorrow we just have, you know like I said, one game away, and that’s something we have been working towards all year.”

On strategy on the mound...
“Yeah, like coach has said earlier, we had seen them before so we kind of had an idea of where to attack each hitter and going right out, especially after Anissa came up with that big hit and got us a lead that gives us a lot more options for like pitch counts and stuff like that so we can pitch with that lead and just get them out with some pretty simple pitches.”

On emotional of home run by Anissa in first inning...
“It was huge. You could just hear it in the dugout, I mean all of us were so excited, so pumped for her and everyone else on the team. That kind of frees us up for the rest of the game and gives us a lot of confidence.”

#17 Anissa Urtez, INF
On confidence level since you’ve met Kentucky before...
“It did help to see, not only a little bit before we played today and just watching video on how we hit last time and adjusting to that.”

On looking for any particular pitch that first time...
“Yeah, she had got me on that low pitch before hand when we played them previously and I knew that was a ball so I was just trying to adjust to that and I was just looking for a strike, looking for something up, and not chasing balls.”

On how you felt when you hit the home run...
“It stayed in the air for a pretty long time so I wasn’t sure if it was going to go out or not, but I just knew I had to keep running so, and that was awesome.”