Utes need victories this weekend against rival BYU

It’s now or never for the Ute softball team to prove they can contend for the regular-season conference title. The team must look for its pitching to increase their play in order to start winning games.

“Every weekend is critical, and there are no weekends we can blow anymore,” U coach Mona Stevens said.

Last week, the team split a series with New Mexico, but was then swept by the Colorado State Rams.

“The thing that we struggled with this past weekend is the thing we struggled with in the past few weeks, which is our pitching,” Stevens said.

Utah gave up 17 runs in the two games against Colorado State, but the Utes have had problems throughout the season giving up one big inning, which was the same problem they had against BYU.

Utah lost their first game in Provo this year 5-4, but defeated the Cougars 9-8 in the second game.

The importance of the series against BYU goes beyond just the conference standings.

“We want both games if we can get them because if we take this series, then we can say that we are the best team in the state,” Stevens said. “We beat Salt Lake Community College and UVSC, and we have already split with the Cougars.”

In order to fix the pitching, Stevens has gone back to a way of practicing that was used earlier in the season.

“We have spent some time doing live batting practice like we did earlier in the season,” Stevens said. “I know that if they show up and stop putting the pressure on themselves, then they will have much better performances.”

The pitchers’ confidence has dropped over the conference season and has really hurt the team.

“It has spiraled to the point where they have no confidence,” Stevens said. “Honest to God, our problem has been our pitching and not the way the other opponents are playing us.”

The batting, however, has not been as bad for the Utes.

Devina Quintero, who has played at second base along with various other positions, has been one of the most valuable players for the team at the plate.

She is batting .353 and has launched 11 home runs, which is second-best on the team.

Quintero was also named MWC Player of the Week a week ago.

Even though scoring runs has not been a problem, the lack of confidence is growing throughout the entire team.

The confidence issues have filtered down to the rest of the team to a point where they don’t know if they can win.

“You see a team like Colorado State, which hasn’t played any tough teams, believe they are really good and that makes them play well, while our team played tough teams and didn’t win, so they don’t know if they have the ability to win those games,” Stevens said.

Before playing BYU, the Utes will play Pacific on Friday.

Stevens knows what the Utes need to do against BYU in order to sweep them.

“We need to make sure we are staying consistent,” Stevens said. “They get most of their runs in an inning, and it’s all about us staying focused and having a good performance throughout the seven innings.”

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