Looking to kick some Aggie: U softball team faces Utah State

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and the Ute softball players are ready to move their dancing cleats.

A six-game homestand offers the U (12-19) a chance to pick up a little momentum before the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

“To be here, in front of friends and family for two weeks, it’s a slice of heaven,” said head coach Mona Stevens.

After two wins over UVSC and a 5-0 thrashing of San Diego State, the Utes seemed poised to take off until they dropped their second game against the Aztecs and lost a doubleheader at UNLV last Sunday.

“We played well last week, until Sunday,” said Stevens. “It was like we ran out of energy, we ran out of steam…But this week is going to be different.”

The U will start its bid to salvage a difficult season today against Utah State (10-23) at Ute Field (3 p.m.). Leslie Higley (6-10) will likely take the mound for the Aggies.

Starting pitching has been an asset for the Utes, as junior starters Briana Gourdin (8-8) and Lindsie Nielsen (4-10) have combined for a 3.20 ERA. Unfortunately for Stevens’ squad, they are only averaging 2.64 runs per game offensively.

“We had solid performances last week by Ivette Hernandez, Devina Quintero and Diana Phillips. I think it’s our time now,” Stevens said.

Both Quintero and Phillips are hitting more than .400 in all-important conference match-ups, in which the Utes are 1-5. Quintero, a sophomore, is leading the team with a .321 average. Hernandez is the U’s sole source of regular pop in the lineup, with six home runs.

Gourdin and Nielsen will hope for production from the rest of the order to improve their undeserved records.

The Utes will play Cal Riverside (11-31) on Friday at 3 p.m. before facing off against conference opponents Colorado State (25-13) and New Mexico (13-20) in consecutive doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.

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