Softball manages just one weekend win

After last week’s UNLV Softball Classic, it seemed the U softball team was ready to progress into winning games against top-flight opponents. But that wasn’t the case over the weekend, as the Utes could only muster a single victory at the Palm Springs Invitational in Palm Springs, Calif.

The Utes lost their games against Notre Dame, No. 12 Tennessee and Boston College. While they stay competitive in all their games, one specific problem plagued the Utes, particularly against Notre Dame and Boston College.

“Errors killed us this week, and they even cost us a couple games,” U head coach Mona Stevens said.

“The playing surface was really hard, almost like concrete, and the balls were coming at the fielders extremely quickly.”

The Utes only had two errors in the 4-3 loss to Notre Dame, but they came at key points that turned the tide for the Fighting Irish.

Pitcher Melissa Oakes gave up four runs in the game against Notre Dame, but only one run was earned.

Against Boston College, the Utes jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but committed five errors and gave up their early advantage, eventually losing, 10-9.

Improving the problems in the field have been an emphasis for Stevens throughout the beginning of the season, yet it seems that the Utes are not yet coming around.

“In the infield we are having problems up the middle, but not on the corners,” Stevens said. “I think it is because the ball is going to the shortstop and the second baseman much more, and on this surface it’s just really fast.”

Against No. 12 Tennessee, the Utes still lost, but more progress was made in terms of hitting. Utah went up against one of the best pitchers in the nation in Monica Abbott.

The Utes only scored one run and had two hits, but the swing selection was much better for Stevens.

“They were much more patient this week and had better swing selection, especially against Monica Abbott, who is one of the best rise-ball pitchers in the nation,” Stevens said.

Even though the Utes got better offensively and had a solid performance from their pitching staff, the team is still not jelling enough to win games against the better teams on their schedule.

“I think we still made progress this week in terms of our confidence,” Stevens said. “We know we can hit the ball and most of the people that were watching us at the tournament were saying how good of a hitting team Utah is.”

But the Utes need to do more in terms of getting everything together, both physically and mentally, and that is the primary objective for Stevens and the rest of the coaching staff.

“We just need to get comfortable and have even more confidence,” Stevens said. “We need a better comfort level in terms of the players getting used to their positions and getting comfortable with their teammates.”

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