Staying at home for its next three-game series, the No. 14 University of Utah softball team will take on Pac-12 foe No. 1 Arizona staring this Thursday, April 13 at Dumke Softball Stadium.
With Arizona sitting at the top in the nation, head coach Amy Hogue is aware that her team is going to have to perform well in order to keep up with the Wildcats. The fun aspect about the weekend that Hogue is looking forward to though is the opportunity for her girls to play with more assertiveness.
“Arizona’s pitchers throw a lot of strikes and we have a really big field, so our hitters get to be really aggressive,” Hogue said. “We are going to try to put some hits together early so we can get Arizona chasing us.”
One thing the Utes have been focusing on this week in preparation for the series against the Wildcats is adjusting to pitches from leftys. According to Hogue, Arizona has lefty pitchers who keep the ball away from the hitter at the start and then hit the backside corner of the plate.
Practicing different angles with pitching and hitting, Hogue just wants her girls to be comfortable with a ball that starts away from the plate so they don’t get caught off guard.
“It’s tough because [the pitches can] look like balls, but then they come back onto the plate,” Hogue said. “We have been spending a lot of time making sure that we are pulling the trigger. We are going to have to be aggressive hitters as well.”
Hogue added she thinks her team has a chance to secure some wins this weekend if the Utes are able to mimic past performances. She said she felt the Utes played well against Arizona in 2016, and while they only took game two last year, they put up solid performances throughout the entire weekend.
“We had chances and that is what this game is really about — giving yourself an opportunity to win come the seventh inning, so that’s our goal,” Hogue said. “We want a chance to win every game and if we are in it until the seventh inning, we will get our share of wins.”
For freshman Kelly Martinez, in order to stay in the game against Arizona, all her team has to do is unleash everything they have and not hold anything back. Utilizing their confidence boost from earlier in the season against UCLA, Martinez is positive her team will perform great against any team.
“We just need to go out there and play like we have been playing,” Martinez said. “We can’t be scared. We have all the confidence in the world going into the game. We are right there with Arizona. We haven’t been nervous this year against any other team, so we aren’t nervous to go against Arizona. We are competing well and we are doing great.”
Thursday’s game is set to begin at 7 p.m., followed by Friday’s game at 4 p.m. and Saturday’s game at 12 p.m.