Head coach Amy Hogue looks to guide the Utes back to the postseason in 2021. Utah had a great start to 2020 with a 14-4 record and a No. 21 national ranking when the season was cancelled. With the NCAA granting all spring athletes an additional year of eligibility, several players from last season will return and some talented newcomers have come on board as well.
Sydney Sandez was sensational in 2020 with an 11-3 record, two saves and a 2.02 ERA. Her six Pac-12 wins in 2019 seventh in the conference, with the highlights including a victory over No. 3 Washington.
Mary Beth Feldman, a member of back-to-back ASA Florida state championship teams, joined the team last year with a 3-1 record and 3.32 ERA. Halle Morris, from Tucson, Ariz., was named to FloSoftball's Hot 100 as she was ranked the No. 8 player in the state of Arizona by MaxPreps.com. She appeared in 10 games as a rookie.
Alicia Estrada, a freshman from Oxnard, Calif., is a two-time League MVP while helping her team to three-straight Pacific View championships. Another freshman, Mariah Lopez, won a pair of 5A State titles at Centennial High School in Peoria, Ariz., and was named the Southern Arizona Pitcher of the Year.
Julia Noskin, an NFCA All-Region and All-Pac-12 Freshman Team selection in 2019, moved over to shortstop from second base last year. Her first year, she led Utah with 36 runs scored and nine stolen bases, and was third in batting with a .318 average.
Over at the hot corner is sophomore Ellessa Bonstrom. She hit .380 with a team-best five home runs in 18 games in 2020 after ranking sixth in the Pac-12 in walks and eighth in doubles in 2019.
Alyssa Palacios started 10 games in 2020. Madi Jacobus, a newcomer a year ago who was ranked as the No. 71 player in the nation by Flo Softball, took over at second base. She hit .317 with a team-best 17 RBI in 2020.
Freshman Aliya Belarde, a MaxPreps All-American from Lakewood, Calif., was ranked as the No. 31 recruit in the nation by Extra Innings Softball. She hit .443 with 10 doubles, six triples, three home runs and 29 stolen bases in 2019. Rookie Sophie Jacquez, recognized as the No. 36 player in the country by Extra Innings Softball, hit .373 with 27 RBI in 2019. Savanah Whatley, from Oakley, Calif., was the Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Junior of the Year in 2019. She hit .544 with eight doubles and 26 RBI.
Senior Alyssa Barrera, a two-time NFCA All-Region and All-Pac-12 selection, ranks fourth in Utah history with a career .367 batting average. In a shorted 2020 season, she hit .421 with a .492 on-base percentage and slugged .649. She was one of only two players in the Pac-12 to be ranked in the top 20 in those categories as well as runs scored.
Haley Denning was ranked the No. 52 prep player in the nation by FloSoftball.com but missed the 2019 season. She impressed in 18 games in 2020 with a .397 batting average, which was second on the team, and had a team-best 12 stolen bases. Jordyn Gasper played in nine games in 2020.
The Utes have also added newcomers MK Gomez and Shelbi Ortiz. Gomez was named the 2020 Utah Gatorade High School Player of the Year, posting a .632 batting average before the season was cancelled. The West Jordan native was a three-time first team all-state selection. Ortiz, from Huntington Beach, Calif., hit .425 for the No. 1 ranked team in Orange County. She was ranked as the No. 39 recruit in the nation by Extra Inning Softball.
Rookies Destiny Quiles and AJ Militello, and transfers Charlee Pond and Eli Espinosa, were all newcomers in 2020. Quiles started 15 games last year. Pond hit .323 her freshman season at Ohio in 2019, primarily playing infield. She was in the lineup for eight games last year. Espinosa spent the 2019 season at Texas before playing in six games at Utah in 2020.
Katie Faulk has started all but one game the past two seasons and bashed five home runs in 2019. Julia Scardina, a newcomer in 2020, was ranked as the No. 84 recruit in the nation by Extra Inning Softball. She played in seven games last year. Another option behind the plate is Makenna Calderon.
Freshman Leilani Melendez, from La Mirada, Calif., was named to the Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team. She led her team with 11 home runs, finishing the season with an outstanding batting average of .463 and a team-high 38 RBIs.
A pair of former Utah players were hopeful of playing in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, while other Utes have also played on the International level in recent years.
Four Utes traveled the globe and represented their countries in International play in the summer of 2017.
Hannah Flippen was named to the USA Softball roster in the fall of 2019 and was among those looking to play in the 2020 Olympics. Flippen played for the USA Elite Team in 2016 and the USA National Team in 2017 and '18. Anissa Urtez is currently on the Mexican National Team roster. She helped lead her country to its first Olympic tournament by winning the World Baseball Softball Confederation Americas qualifier in 2019.
Alyssa Barrera, a two-time All-Pac-12 outfielder who will be back with the Utes in 2021, has been a starter for the Mexican National Team over the past four years. Aubrey Peterson was a starter for Great Britain at the 2017 Women's Softball European Championship.
Amy Hogue enters her 22nd season with the Utah softball program as a head coach, assistant coach and player. She led the Utes to three-straight NCAA Tournament berths beginning in 2015, including back-to-back Super Regionals for the first time in program history in 2016 and 2017.
Utah was off to a great start before the 2020 season was cancelled, climbing to No. 21 in the polls with a 14-4 record. In 13 seasons as the Utes' head coach, Hogue has a 349-317-1 record and sports a 546-399-1 overall mark in 19 years as a collegiate head coach, which includes six seasons at the NJCAA level's Salt Lake Community College.
Hogue got her start in coaching as Utah's graduate assistant coach from 1994-95. As a player from 1991-94, she helped the Utes win two conference titles and make two College World Series appearances. She captained the 1994 squad that tallied a school-record 51 wins, earning Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, first team all-region and second team All-America honors along the way. She was a three-time All-WAC honoree.
Among Utah's career leaders, Hogue still ranks third in at bats (703) and stolen bases (72), fourth in hits (239), and fifth in hitting (.340) and runs (125).
Hogue graduated from Utah in 1994 with a sociology degree and earned a Master's in social work in 1996. The Sandy, Utah, native has three children, Brennan, Kai and Tessa.
Cody Thomson has spent 14 seasons as a full-time assistant with the Utes and has been part of the staff since 2005.
Thomson works with the pitching staff, including recent All-Pac-12 selections Miranda Viramontes and Katie Donovan. In 2016, Donovan was a Third Team NFCA All-Pacific Region selection and surpassed her career high for wins with 20, third-most of any Pac-12 pitcher. She amassed a 2.47 earned run average, ranking fifth in the Pac-12, and her 141 strikeouts were seventh-most. Viramontes recorded the seventh-best ERA in the Pac-12 (2.73) in 2016. She had a 14-4 record and a 1.51 ERA to rank fourth in 2017.
A former USA Softball Men's National Team pitcher, Thomson played for the national team from 2004-09. He was named Best Pitcher at the NAFA World Series in 2006. He was a four-time ASA All-American.
Thomson is married to the former Amanda Tuft and has four children: Mikaela, Chase, Cayden and Quinley.
DJ Gasso is in his first season at Utah after spending the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma. In his two seasons on the staff the Sooners were national runners-up in 2019 and ranked No. 4 in the nation when the 2020 season was halted.
A Norman, Okla., native, Gasso earned his bachelor’s degree in communication in 2017 from Bradley University, where he spent two seasons (2016, '17) as a standout baseball player following one year at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan.
The infielder excelled in the classroom, earning 2016 MVC Honorable Mention Scholar-Athlete recognition, and was a two-time MVC Honor Roll and four-time Athletics Director's Honor Roll selection. Gasso finished his collegiate baseball playing career at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2018, hitting .303 as a senior.
After beginning his postgraduate work at UCO, Gasso completed his master's degree in intercollegiate athletics administration at OU. A graduate of Norman (Okla.) High School, Gasso is the son of Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso and the brother of Oklahoma assistant coach JT Gasso.