In its second weekend of preseason play, the University of Utah softball team will travel to Cathedral City, California, to compete in the Mary Nutter Classic. The tournament runs from Feb. 17-19, and it will feature 16 teams.
Utah will face Syracuse and Arkansas on Saturday, Cal Poly and Fordham on Sunday and Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara on Monday. All of these games will be played as double headers at the Big League Dreams Park.
“This is always a fun tournament to play in because we get to play against and be around so many other competitive teams,” said junior outfielder Ally Dickman.
Competing in this tournament also means that the team gets to play in a lower altitude and in warmer weather. In addition to that, many of the players are from California or neighboring states, so they will have the opportunity to see their family members.
Now that the Utes have their first tournament under their belts, they are ready to settle into more of a routine. The team is working on becoming comfortable in its play and with each other while staying calm throughout the entire game.
“Their ability to finish is going to be a focus for us,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “We need to make sure that all of the little things add up to a more fun seventh inning for the team.”
Hogue said that this past weekend, Utah missed some opportunities that they could have capitalized on during their games. In practice leading up to the classic, the Utes main focus has been identifying those situations and recognizing how to achieve success when put in those scenarios.
“I am excited for our offense to step up this weekend because their emotions will be more settled,” Hogue said. “When your emotions are more settled, you pick better pitches, you hit the strikes early in the count as opposed to later.”
The Utes struggled with this concept in their preseason tournament debut, but Hogue is confident this time around, they will play better because they won’t be as nervous to play together.
“It is all about the growth during the wee so that the weekends can play out differently and hopefully a little bit better,” Hogue said.
First pitch for Utah at the Mary Nutter Classic will be at 3 p.m. PT.