Utah Softball Excited For ‘Chess Match’ In Super Regionals

May 26, 2023, 10:19 AM

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah softball is hosting the Super Regionals for the first time ever and are excited for what they believe will be a “chess match” against San Diego State.

Utah wrapped up a successful first-round of NCAAs at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium last weekend, posting convincing wins against Southern Illinois and Ole Miss twice for the privilege of hosting a second weekend of NCAAs. 

The Utes and Aztecs open play tonight at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium at 8:00 p.m. MT. They will also compete on Saturday, May 27 at 3:00 p.m. MT. A third game is tentatively scheduled for Sunday if Utah and SDSU split the first two games with time yet to be determined. The games can be watched on ESPNU.

San Diego State Can Do A Little Of Everything

Head coach Amy Hogue anticipates a good battle after having scouted the Aztecs, noting, they can do a little bit of everything really well.

“It’s postseason,” Hogue said. “They’ve got everything. They have pitching, they have defense, they have some speed, some power. We’re going to have to bring our A-game.”

Hogue also anticipates a little bit of a “chess match” against SDSU since they are playing a series with them this weekend instead of the round-robin style of the weekend before.

“That is my favorite part of the game,” Hogue said. “I spend a lot of time doing that- I’m more of the game strategist type of person. We have a program we can look at that shows what counts they like to run in and all of those types of things. It comes into play right when it matters. Does this kid like to sac bunt or is she someone who will squeeze bunt? You have to have that in your notes, but mostly you go back to what you’re used to doing and what your tendencies are at the end of the year and that is just to grind.”

Utah Using Their Time Wisely

Like all sports, the end of the year is a balance of peaking at the right time and “bump and bruises” management. Coach Hogue said with the way things laid out between last weekend’s first-round of NCAAs and this weekend’s Super Regional the girls had a little more time to recover than usual and Utah took advantage of that.

“We actually had more time than we usually have,” Hogue said. “We had to figure out what to do with some of that time. There was some rest for sure, some get-away from the game- mandatory type of moments for them. Then we did our normal lift in the mornings on Tuesday and had a stretch and kind of “move your body” session with our strength trainer on Wednesday before practice. Did some film already and had a longer practice one of the days. It was an extra day than we’re used to, but we kept it kind of slow.”

Utes Love Being Home

Aliya Belarde says the team has been having fun being at home and accomplishing a lot of firsts for the program in 2023.

“It is an awesome feeling,” Belarde said. “Just so many firsts that we’ve accomplished this year and it’s been so fun just seeing our fan base grow a lot and seeing each other grow so much from fall to now. It’s been so fun.”

Ellessa Bonstrom echoed Belarde’s sentiments and appreciation for getting to play the first couple round of the NCAA Tournament at home in front of their growing fan base.

“Playing in front of this crowd the last couple of weeks has been unbelievable,” Bonstrom said. “The atmosphere the crowd creates is just something you can’t even imagine. It’s been very special getting to play at home the last few weeks.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Softball Excited For ‘Chess Match’ In Super Regionals