Utes tornadoed in Kansas

After a week off, it seemed as if the U softball team would break through and win a couple of games at the Hampton Inn/Jayhawk Classic, but nothing would give as the Utes had their worst weekend of the season.

Utah lost all four games in Lawrence, Kan., and only managed to score three runs combined in the four games.

The lost weekend started even before the Utes hit the field against the Kansas Jayhawks.

“It was horrible and a really difficult weekend as far as travel was concerned,” U coach Mona Stevens said. “We had some problems with our outbound flight, so they had to shuffle around and we didn’t get in our hotel until 1 in the morning, and we had to play at 10.”

The weekend seemed like a complete disaster for the team and it all started on the field with the first run scored against Utah.

“They had a new field and when our second baseman, Jackie Wong, was fielding a ball, she tripped over a sprinkler and they scored a run,” Stevens said. “She sprained her ankle and we don’t know how long she is going to be out.”

Even though the Utes had an excuse for the first run, everything that followed in all the games was inexcusable.

“We couldn’t do anything right to save us,” Stevens said. “It was not fun.”

Freshman Samantha Schroeder pitched well, only allowing two runs in the first game, but the Ute hitters couldn’t get anything going.

The lone run in the 2-1 loss to the Jayhawks was catcher Kate Nygaard’s solo home run.

After such a close loss to the Jayhawks, Utah had to go up against the No. 18 Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Utes got pasted.

Cornhusker ace Peaches James was almost perfect, except for giving up a solo shot to Ivette Hernandez.

But the run was inconsequential, as the Cornhuskers went off on Ute pitcher Heather Bowlin.

Bowlin gave up seven runs and in the end Nebraska won 9-1.

It was more of the same in the next two games, as the Utes lost 3-1 against the Jayhawks and Nebraska gave the Utes a nice farewell with a 12-0 beating to close out the weekend.

“We could not get our feet underneath us at all,” Stevens said. “The kids were atypical, but Glennis Donnely, Melissa Stankhe and Texie Criddle did a good job for us offensively.”

The play of those three was one of the only positives to come out of the weekend, but the way the team played together was just horrifying.

Stevens knew it wasn’t a matter of the talent the team faced in Kansas, which overwhelmed them, but a matter of the Utes not playing their game.

“We know it’s purely us, and this is not who we are,” Stevens said. Physically, we are much better than this. We just need to get some momentum.”

In the weeks before the Hampton Classic, it seemed the Utes were starting to gel and play close games with highly ranked teams, but the Utes may have taken a couple steps backward after their most recent performance.

“Their confidence is really shaken and that’s not who they are,” Stevens said. “They are frustrated, but I know they are very determined.”

In order to do restore the Utes’ confidence, Stevens wants the weather to get a little better.

“If the snow melts, we can start practicing on the field, and it will really help,” Stevens said.

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