Senior Generra Nielson threw a four-hit shutout in Thursday's 6-0 win over No. 15/17 Stanford.
May 10, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - Senior right-hander Generra Nielson pitched a four-hit shutout and junior shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiana homered for the second straight game to lead the University of Utah softball team to a 6-0 victory over No. 15/17 Stanford on Thursday at Ute Field in the opening game of their Pac-12 Conference series.
Utah (28-26, 2-20 Pac-12) has won two of its last three Pac-12 home games and managed to outhit the Cardinal, 9-4. The Utes are now 24-1 this season when registering more hits than their opponents.
"It was really important to put a complete game together," Utah head coach Amy Hogue said. "Stanford is a great team and we've been talking all season about how you almost have to play a perfect game to win a game in this conference and I think we were able to accomplish that today."
In 7.0 innings of work, Nielson did not give up an earned run and allowed only four hits while striking out eight, compared to just three walks. The Blanding, Utah native now has three complete-game shutout victories this season and six over her career as a Ute. She finished the game strong by getting two Stanford hitters to strike out looking in the top of the seventh. The Cardinal failed to advance a runner to third base the entire game and were only able to get runners to second base on three occasions against Nielson.
With eight more strikeouts on the day, Nielson pushed her school single-season record total to 288 and now has 486 over her career, which is nine shy of tying Janet Womack (1989-92) for third place in school history. She needs to average five strikeouts per game the next two days against Stanford to overtake Womack.
The defense behind Nielson was impressive as well as Utah turned in its 19th error-free performance as they had 27 chances on the day and were not charged with an error. The Utes have a 10-9 record this season when not recording an error. Freshman Kate Dickman set the tone early by making a diving catch in center field to rob Stanford's Ashley Hansen of a hit for the second out in the top of the first.
Hoopiiaina went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. She slammed a three-run homer down the left-field line in the second as part of Utah's five-run outburst then singled to right field and ran to third base after the ball took a fortunate bounce for the Utes and rolled all the way to the fence and allowed sophomore pinch runner Taylor Austin to score from first in the bottom of the fourth.
It was Hoopiiaina's team-leading 15th multi-hit game of the year and she is now third on the team with 26 RBI.
Holm had two hits in three at-bats and a run scored. The Spanish Fork, Utah native singled to left in the second and knocked a base hit up the middle in the fifth frame.
Senior Hannah Clements rapped her sixth extra-base hit of the season in the second frame, a two-run double that ignited the Ute bats. The Poway, Calif., native now has three multi-RBI outings this year.
The Utes lifted the lid on the scoring with a five-run second inning as junior second baseman Jackie Sweet roped a leadoff single up the middle of the Cardinal defense then Holm blooped a single between the shortstop and left fielder to put Ute runners on first and second with one out. Sophomore designated player Naomi Amu drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases before Clements laced a two-run double off the center field fence. Hoopiiaina connected on a three-run homer down the left-field line to put Utah ahead 5-0.
The Utes have scored first 27 times in 2012 and are 19-8 in those contests this season.
Utah added a sixth run in the fourth frame when freshman Marissa Mendenhall came up with a pinch-hit single past the Stanford shortstop. Austin came on to pinch run before Hoopiiaina ripped a single to left field that took a hop past the Stanford left fielder and allowed Austin to score from first base and give the Utes a 6-0 advantage.
No. 15/17 Stanford (36-16, 9-12 Pac-12) was led by a 2-for-3 day by catcher Maya Burns.
The Utes continue their series with the Cardinal tomorrow at 4 p.m. MT. Live stats and Gavin McCallister's play-by-play call will be available at utahutes.com.