"It's so easy to motivate kids when they're at home and it's regionals," she said. "I don't need to say anything. They just do it. They needed this game to get back in a groove. I guarantee you that they were just as pumped for this game as any game in the last two weeks."
Donovan blistered from the start with three straight strikeouts in the top of the first. The junior finished with five Ks in the game.
Donovan didn't leave anything to chance in three innings of work after the Utes lost three of her previous four games. She retired nine of the 10 batters she faced with relative ease before Hogue stashed her away with the game safely in hand.
"I think I just came out with a mindset of being really excited to play, being really excited to go out for each and every hitter," Donovan said. "All week, this has been what it's been leading up to."
The offense rolled just as easily for Utah, which put 15 runners on base in 21 at-bats. While Utah did swing its fair share with nine hits, the Rams struggled with errors, throwing off target as the Utes circled the bags again and again.
Utah enjoyed an 8-0 lead after two innings. Junior third baseman Heather Bowen put a point on the five-run second-inning rally with two-run homer to left field.
Seven different Utes scored in the game.
"That's the way I wanted to start," Hogue said. "Our pitchers and our hitters did their jobs."
Hogue started making substitutions by the fourth inning. Hailey Hillburn finished the day in the circle, and three others subbed in to smooth out nerves and get prepared for the rest of the double-elimination tournament.
Utah's next opponent is a familiar one. BYU (45-11) blanked Mississippi State in the earlier game. The Utes and Cougars will meet at 1 p.m. Friday, with the winner advancing to Saturday's final and the loser facing an elimination game later in the day.
The first meeting between the teams March 22 was a 4-3 triumph for BYU in Provo, which was a back-and-forth tussle. While Hogue downplayed the rivalry, saying most of the California-grown Utes haven't grown up with it, others sounded more eager for a second shot at the Cougars.
"I think it's a good opportunity for revenge," Donovan said.
The 10-run margin of victory was Utah's largest ever in an NCAA tournament game.