To open its 2018 season, the University of Utah softball team will travel to Tempe, Arizona, to compete in the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Utes will begin play on Friday, Feb. 9, with the tournament wrapping up on Sunday, Feb. 11.
The tournament will include 28 different teams with 76 scheduled games. For most of the schools involved in the classic, this will kick off their preseason.
Utah will start the weekend off against New Mexico at 9:15 a.m. Utah will then take on No. 25 Georgia, Nebraska, No. 11 Tennessee and Saint Mary’s. This opportunity to go against opponents who are outside of the Pac-12 will give the Utes a chance to gain more experience.
Cody Thomson, assistant coach and primary pitching coach, is looking forward to the Utes’ season getting underway and finally getting to see the team play together.
“The preseason is always really fun because you are going to match up against teams that are maybe a little easier than we are used to seeing in the Pac-12,” Thomson said. “We will face some teams that we should beat, but we are also going to face a few teams like Georgia and Tennessee, which will be some challenging opponents. This tournament will really help us prepare for Pac-12, and will give the team a taste of what we are about to face.”
Utah is ranked No. 15 in the nation, and the team comes into the 2018 season with a few new faces on its roster. Seven freshmen make up this rather young team, and the Utes are still getting to know each other as they enter the start of their season.
“I am really looking forward to playing with my team. I didn’t get the chance to play with the new players at all, so being in game mode, on real dirt with the team, will be very exciting,” said senior pitcher Miranda Viramontes. “It will be especially fun to play against an actual opponent instead of just playing against my teammates. I am looking forward to seeing how the new team plays together in the infield, since that is where most of our new players are.”
Viramontes is focused going into the weekend, and she has her own personal goals set. She wants to pitch her best in her first games of the year and stay confident in her own playing ability.
Thomson is hopeful Utah will not only learn things from facing other teams in the classic, but that the Utes will dominate in preseason.
“Our team goal in preseason is to win every game,” Thomson said. “If we can do really well in preseason going into Pac-12, we should have a high-ranking, and we will be prepared to play some higher level teams.”