U softball prepares for a four-game home stand

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

After last weekend’s dismal home opener against BYU, the Utah softball team is dying for a chance to redeem itself. Fortunately for the Utes, this week will afford them four different opportunities to do just that, as both Colorado State and New Mexico are coming to town for some hardcore ball-on-bat action.

Although both the Rams and the Lobos are formidable opponents, Utah head coach Angie Jacobs remains optimistic that her team can rediscover its preseason rhythm and climb back into the thick of the MWC title race.

“Our goal for this weekend is to get back on track, both offensively and defensively,” Jacobs said. “We had a great practice on Tuesday afternoon, and I think we were able to resolve a lot of the issues we were having at the plate against BYU.”? While the Utes proved time and time again throughout the preseason that they are capable of performing well at the plate, their offense was nowhere to be found last weekend against the Cougars. In fact, Hailey Davenport’s 12th home run of the season was the lone highlight produced by Utah’s sluggers in the two-game series.

“We were a little off,” said senior pitcher Meghan Dyer. “But that kind of thing happens to everyone every now and again.”

Considering the recent play of both Colorado State and New Mexico, the Utes had better find their groove as quickly as possible. The Rams, for example, are coming off a pair of wins over MWC heavyweight San Diego State, while the Lobos are third place in league play after stealing a win from previously undefeated UNLV.

“They’re both pretty good teams,” Dyer said. “They have the talent and the momentum to beat us.”

Weather permitting, the Utes will first face off against New Mexico in a doubleheader this afternoon at Ute Field. The Lobos, who are led by sophomore slugger and reigning MWC Hitter of the Week Analise Rubalcava, match up well with Utah on both sides of the ball. In addition to Rubalcava, the Lobos will be counting on senior Amy Ray to provide a spark at the plate.

Junior Kelly Ninemire will likely get the start in the circle after going 2-0 in league play last weekend. In contrast with the Lobos, who are coming off a pair of consecutive victories, the Rams have come up short in their previous two outings, the most recent of which was a loss to UNLV that saw CSU cough up a seventh-inning lead to the visiting Rebels. Nevertheless, Colorado State has more than enough firepower to challenge the Utes’ stingy defense.

Sluggers Allison Majam, Jessi Strickland and Lauren Cusick all boast batting averages greater than .300, and sophomore hurler Kim Klabough tops the Rams’ stat sheet with a 2.24 ERA.

Although both the Lobos and the Rams are formidable opponents, the Utes are excited to get back out on the field. “We are ready to go back out in front of our fans and our community and do what we do best, and that’s play Utah softball,” Jacobs said.