SALT LAKE CITY - For the first time in program history, Utah Softball topped the No. 1 team in the nation (per the ESPN/USA Softball poll) as the Utes stopped Arizona Friday evening, 6-3.
"I think that this win shows the program has developed into something special," head coach Amy Hogue said. "We continue to raise the ceiling each year and the work is paying off. The players have committed extreme amounts of time and energy to everything and it's a fantastic feeling to see a win like this."
Miranda Viramontes improved to 11-1 with the victory for the Utes. It was her fifth complete game of the season and she threw a season-high 118 pitches while allowing just one extra base-hit. Taylor McQuillan, who entered with a record of 13-0, allowed all six runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Bridget Castro had three hits, including a triple, and snagged a liner before tagging first for a double play in the fourth inning. Delilah Pacheco was a catalyst once again with a pair of hits and runs scored from the leadoff spot while Anissa Urtez smacked a key two-run triple.
Utah knew it needed to start aggressively like it had done all season and got what it needed in the first. Pacheco singled and after a ground out moved her up, Hannah Flippen slapped a single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.
The Utes added to it in the second when Castro led off with a triple and scored on a Kelly Martinez single through the right side. A ground ball moved the freshman backstop up a bag and she would score on an Alyssa Barrera single to make it 3-0.
A chance to do more damage went by the wayside in the third. Heather Bowen walked with one out and Castro singled. After another grounder put both runners in scoring position, Arizona got out of the inning.
With Viramontes in control from the circle, Utah got the insurance it needed in the fourth. Pacheco singled and Barrera walked before Urtez smashed a tailing liner just out of the grasp of a diving UA centerfielder. It plated both runners and the senior shortstop would score when Bowen smacked a shot off the third baseman's glove into left field.
After not getting a base runner to second base during the first five innings, Arizona awoke in the sixth. Katiyana Mauga and Mo Mercado knocked consecutive RBI singles to get the 'Cats on the board.
In the seventh, a throwing error after a Dejah Mulipola singled brought in another and put the visitors within striking distance. However, Viramontes notched her third strikeout, getting Alyssa Palomino swinging, to end it.
"I think the older group knows what it's taken to get to this point and for them I hope this is special," Hogue added. "The younger kids expect to win games like this. I've been around a while and I can appreciate days like this. Every team that's been a part of this climb is a special one and I'm very proud of this current group for continuing to elevate its play."
The Utes and Wildcats are back at it tomorrow afternoon with first pitch slated for 12 p.m. and it will be Bark at the Park.