To close out its regular season the No. 13 University of Utah softball team (33-11, 13-6 Pac-12) will take on No. 8 Washington (40,11, 13-8 Pac-12) in a three-game series that begins Thursday, May 11.
The Utes dropped in the polls after losing the series against the Oregon State Beavers last weekend where they took one of the three games. First baseman Bridget Castro said there were a lot of small things that could have been changed throughout the series that would have allowed her team to win, but despite the weekend outcome, Castro said it was a great learning experience.
“It was hard in the moment to get past it, but winning that last game was big for us,” Castro said. “It showed us that we can bounce back like that and that’s really important at this point in the season.”
Utah is trying to erase the Oregon State loss from its mind but is also reflecting on what went wrong so it does not repeat the same mistakes against Washington. With the series against the Huskies being the final regular season Pac-12 contest for both teams, Castro said her team cannot take anything for granted.
“We are just going to go in and be ourselves, and play free because that’s when we play our best,” said center fielder Delilah Pacheco. “[We play best] If we play free and goof around before the game and not be too serious. We just need to be ourselves.”
Following Saturday’s game, Utah will honor the seven seniors on the team. Castro, Pacheco, Sammy Cordova, Hannah Flippen, Kay Kay Fronda, Bella Secaira and Anissa Urtez will be recognized for their hard work off and on the field.
For Castro, this weekend is all about enjoying the moment, while not wanting to take it too seriously, but wanting to win every game. Pacheco felt the same way, but also added that her team is going to play the series just like any other series, as they soak up the final moments one last time together during the regular season. Head coach Amy Hogue wants to avoid those emotions, as the Utes have a high possibility of hosting a NCAA game. Hogue has made it apparent that Utah is a postseason team, and if they advance, the Utah seniors will be a part of more playing time action.
“Those seven seniors have changed the culture here and really established what it is that we want this program to be about so it’s going to be a tough one,” Hogue said. “It’s a hard thing to think about what life after them is going to look like.”
Emotions may be running a little higher than usual because of the seniors this weekend, but the Utes found a way to make light of the situation. Besides having their end-of-the-season party out on the field, the introduction songs might be different than what fans are used to hearing.
“We did ask to play our graduation song,” Pacheco said. “We didn’t get to walk, so when we walk out and they introduce us, we want them to do the graduation song. We don’t know for sure. We think they took it seriously. It would be something funny to see.”
Thursday’s pitch is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. MT, followed by Friday’s game at 6 p.m. MT and Saturday’s at 1 p.m. MT.