#5 UW 5, Utah 2

Heather Tarr (UW Media Relations)

SEATTLE - Kelli Suguro drove in the go ahead run in the bottom of the second inning and made one of two defensive gems by the Huskies as 5th ranked Washington beat Utah 5-2 in the Pac-12 opener for both teams at Husky Softball Stadium on a partly sunny Friday evening.

With the win the Huskies improved their record to 1-0 in the Pac-12 and 20-4 overall while the Utes began the conference slate 0-1 and dropped to 9-9.

After Whitney Jones flied out to lead off the bottom of the second, Marki Creger-Zier grounded a single to left center. She advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Shelby Pacheco and stole third. Courtney Gano grounded to second for out number two, bringing Suguro to the plate. She looked at two balls before driving the next pitch from Mariah Ramirez (1-1) off the wall in right center to score Creger-Zier and give the Huskies a 3-2 lead.

The home team added valuable insurance, scoring one run in the bottom of the fourth and adding another one in the fifth. In the fourth, Ali Aguilar led off with an infield single to short, moved to second on a sacrifice by Jones and scored on a line single to center by pinch hitter Dani Braun. Then in the next inning, Victoria Hayward lined a single to right center and scored on a double by Hooch Fagaly over the glove of right fielder Marissa Mendenhall.

Washington opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, taking a 2-0 lead on a leadoff walk to Hayward and a two out two run homer, her team leading 10th, well over the wall in left field by Kylee Lahners. With the two runs batted in Lahners also raised her team leading total to 34.

Utah came back to tie the game right away in the top of the second. Bella Secaira drew a leadoff walk against Bryana Walker (12-2). Shelbi Everett pinch ran and took second on a groundout by Mendenhall. Bridge Castro then grounded to short and the Huskies had Everett caught in a rundown between and second and third. They thought they had tagged her out but the umpires ruled her safe at third on apparent obstruction by Lahners. On the play Castro advanced to second. Ramirez then singled to score Everett and Kristen Stewart followed with a successful squeeze bunt to score Castro for a 2-2 tie.

In the circle Walker won despite not having her best stuff, slogging through six innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out two. She allowed a runner in every inning but the fourth. In the top of the first leadoff batter Chalese Hadley reached on a two base throwing error by Aguilar and attempted to score on a single to center by Kate Dickman but Victoria Hayward threw a strike to catcher Gano to nail Hadley at the plate.

In the sixth, the Utes had runners on at first and second when Stewart hit a soft liner that looked like it would drop in shallow right for a potential run scoring hit, but Suguro made a terrific diving catch to end the inning.

Kaitlin Inglesby relieved Walker in the seventh and earned her first save of the season but not before she, too had some drama. With one out and a runner at first Inglesby battled Dickman through 12 pitches before finally striking her out on a foul tip.

In the loss for the Utes, Ramirez gave up five runs, all earned, on 10 hits in six innings. She did not walk or strike out a batter.

The two teams resume the three game series at Husky Softball Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. first pitch.

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