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Utah Softball beats No. 8 Stanford, returns to Pac-12 tournament title game
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Utah Softball beats No. 8 Stanford, returns to Pac-12 tournament title game

STANFORD, California. Sarah Ladd turned in six and 1/3 innings of one-run ball and Maria Lopez got the final two outs for her first save of the season as University of Utah softball escaped Friday night with a 2-1 victory over No. 8 Stanford Cardinal in the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium in Stanford, California.

The 34-19 Utes, who have now won four straight games, all against ranked foes, will have a chance to capture their second consecutive Pac-12 Tournament Championship on Saturday when they face Arizona or UCLA.

“Shoutout to Sarah Ladd”, said the coach Amy High. “She came out strong and did exactly what we needed her to do to fuel our defense. I’m super proud of that win for her. It’s probably the biggest we’ve had and to achieve the goals we have as a program To get back into that championship, she was the one who led us there and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Utes started the game by giving their starting pitcher the lead on a walk, an error and a Kaylah Nelsen RBI single to take a 1-0 lead. Nelsen came again in the third inning when he came around after hitting Aliya Belarde And Haley Denningshe hit another shot through the left side to double her team’s lead.

“The top of the lineup really crafted runs like they know how,” Hogue said. “Against a pitching staff like them, you have to be happy if you put two runs on the board early and then let them chase you.”

Ladd, meanwhile, expertly navigated the Stanford order. She grounded out for a double play in the first, then left runners in scoring position in the second and third. The senior pitcher followed that by retiring nine of the next 10 batters she faced, keeping Utah’s lead intact in the seventh.

In the final frame, Ladd got the first batter out, but a walk and an error put two runners in and Lopez took over in the circle. Lopez got the second out on a flyout, but an infield hit and a hit batter accounted for Stanford’s first score and put the winning run at second base. Emily Jones then grounded out to the shortstop and Kaitlyn Lim collided with Utah’s Shonty PassiLim was called for interference and the Utes secured their spot in the Pac-12 Tournament title game.

Next one

Utah’s game against UCLA or Arizona starts at 8:00 PM MT. Fans can tune in on ESPN2.

Follow the Utes!

Fans can follow along on social media (Twitter: @Utah_Softball |Instagram: @utahsoftbal | Facebook: Facebook.com/Utessoftball).