Softball team ready for play

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

Season kicks off in St. George

After weeks of practicing indoors, the Utah women’s softball team is ready to play in the dirt.

The team will head south to take part in the Red Desert Classic in St. George, where the Utes will play five games in the three-day tournament.

“It’s time to play,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “You get to this point that there is hardly anything left to cover in practice and you just need to put it out there and see what you have. The girls are excited and ready.”

Despite having yet to play outside, the team isn’t anticipating any problems turning things inside out.

The Utes will leave a few days early to have time to practice on the dirt a couple of times before playing in a game.

Utah will face in-state competitors, including Utah State and Utah Valley universities, as well as out-of-state teams San Jose State, Washington and Loyola Marymount8212;a combination that makes for the perfect opening weekend.

“It’s a good tournament to open with,” Hogue said. “The competition is tough but we’re not facing top 10 teams right off the bat, either.”

Play begins Friday with a matchup against San Jose State at 1 p.m.

Starting lineup

Going into the first game, the Utes have solidified a starting lineup that features five seniors, two juniors and two freshmen.

Seniors Kara Foster and Angie Boardman will start in center and right field, respectively. Freshman Hannah Clements will fill left field.

The majority of the infield will be seniors, with Staci Hemingway playing first, Bonnie Muir at second and Sharee Fonoti at shortstop. Freshman Whitney Holm will start at third base.

Senior Andrea Hoffman will be the starting catcher, but Hogue said she expects sophomore Brooke Olson to get substantial playing time behind the plate.

Returning starting pitcher, junior Ashley Smuda, has earned the starting pitching spot for now, but will have to compete with Lindsey Palmer, Brittany Parker and Joni Cook to keep her spot.

“All of the pitchers will see playing time this weekend,” Hogue said. “We will be led by Ashley Smuda but that could quickly change once we get into the season.”

“No Fear”

The softball team has adopted a new motto for the upcoming season, “Fear nothing, fear no one, fear us.”

The motto refers to the players’ biggest obstacle8212;themselves.

“The team has talked about that the only thing that usually gets in our way is ourselves,” Hogue said. “The focus needs to stay on us and what we have and not what the other team has. And if we do what it is we are good at, we can beat anyone out there.”

The Utes are also working on taking failures and moving forward rather than focusing on them.

“The game is about failures,” Hogue said. “A really great hitter only gets on base four out of 10 times, so we have to redefine what success is and not being afraid of failures.”

Earning respect

Last season, the Utes were picked to finish last in the Mountain West Conference, but surprised everyone with a 10-10 record in conference, good enough to earn third place.

When this year’s preseason rankings came out, however, Utah was picked to finish No. 4 in the MWC.

“I don’t think we are as respected as we should be,” Hogue said. “We finished in the top three last year, and are the only team in the top three that didn’t lose our starting pitcher.”

The rankings are not a huge focus of the team, however.

“We don’t use the polls as a measure of our success,” Hogue said. “I think you have to earn respect and we’ll do our best to show everyone that we’re not a fourth place team.”

Pitcher injured

One of the team’s four pitchers was injured in a car accident Monday afternoon.

Sophomore Brittany Parker was hit by a car that ran a red light. Parker’s car was totaled in the accident and she left the site in an ambulance.

Parker sustained a concussion from the accident and missed practices Tuesday and Wednesday because of the injury.

“The accident might set her back a little bit but she could’ve been hurt a lot worse,” Hogue said.

As of Wednesday, Parker has not been cleared to play with the rest of the Utes in their opening tournament this weekend.

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