Utah’s first trip to the Women’s College World Series in 29 years turned out to be a short one, as the 15th-seeded Utes lost a pair of games Friday and were eliminated in the space of less than 12 hours.

After dropping a 4-1 decision to Pac-12 rival Washington earlier in the day, the Utes were forced to make a quick turnaround and were run-ruled 8-0 in five innings by sixth-seeded Oklahoma State late Friday night in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — about an hour from the Cowgirls’ Stillwater campus.

“Yeah, it was tough. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do. The whole year has been hard. A lot of games. It has been tough, but these girls love playing, and there was no way that they weren’t excited to be here, didn’t matter what time and what the circumstances.” — Utah softball coach Amy Hogue.

After the Utah-Washington game was pushed from Thursday to Friday because of multiple weather delays on opening day, forcing the loser to have to stick around USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, it all seemed rather unfair to make the Utes play two games and OSU just one.

But that’s the hand the Utes were dealt, and they dealt with it.

But not well.

Still, Utes coach Amy Hogue maintained her perspective in an in-game interview with ESPN.

“Yeah, it was tough. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do,” Hogue said when it was clear it just wasn’t in the cards for the weary Utes.

“The whole year has been hard. A lot of games. It has been tough, but these girls love playing, and there was no way that they weren’t excited to be here, didn’t matter what time and what the circumstances.”

The biggest disadvantage, it turned out, was that Utah did not have the services of ace pitcher Mariah Lopez in the nightcap after she threw 123 pitches in six innings against UW.

Starter Sydney Sandez, a senior, was chased in the second inning with the Utes trailing 3-0, and reliever Halle Morris had even worse luck.

The Cowgirls pushed across five more runs with Morris in the circle — thanks to some nice hits but also some sloppy defense from the Utes — and when the dust had settled in windy OKC the Cowgirls had an 8-0 lead.

That was plenty, as it turned out.

Morgyn Wynne delivered the key blow, a two-run double to left-center, but mostly it was death by paper cut for the Utes, who booted a ball and gave up a wild pitch to add to the damage.

So Utah’s dream season ends with a 42-16 mark, and some curiosity about what might have been if it didn’t have to play what amounted to a day-night doubleheader on Friday.

Hogue’s takeaway?

“Just that they had fun,” she told ESPN. “The culture around here is to have a good time playing the game that we love and getting better and supporting each other and getting your degree.

“All those things are important, so we have checked a lot of boxes this year. I am really proud.”

While Utah struggled in the pitching department, OSU thrived, as Alabama transfer Lexi Kilfoyl allowed just three hits and struck out three.

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Aliya Belarde had Utah’s first hit, in the third inning, and the Utes got two more in the fifth when they were trying to stave off elimination.

Jordyn Gasper and Haley Denning got the hits in the fifth, Denning’s coming on a bunt. Pinch-hitter Kaylah Nelsen then hit a ball hard, but right into Kilfoyl’s glove.

After Emily Capobianco struck out, Kilfoyl ended it by getting Belarde to ground out to first.

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“I figured we would play well. There is too much experience here. There’s too much talent here,” said OSU coach Kenny Gajewski. whose club was run-ruled 8-0 by Florida State on Thursday.

“There are too many great kids and great coaches. I felt good all day. Excellent pitching. Lexi was on point, defense making plays and then we hit the ball like I know we can. When we do that, we are pretty dang good, so good win.”

As for Utah’s task of playing two games in one day, Gajewski said most players who grew up playing this “outdoor sport” get used to it.

“Utah will be better for it, just like we have been,” Gajewski said. “They will be back here … Hats off to Amy and her staff for what they’ve done. They had an incredible year.”

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