Utes get 3-2 record at season opening St. George tourney

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

Not too shabby of a start.

The Utah women’s softball team earned a 3-2 record in its season-opening weekend at the Red Desert Classic in St. George.

The Utes’ bats came alive in their three wins, as they scored 26 runs in wins over San Jose State, 6-5, Utah State, 10-0 and Utah Valley University, 10-2.

“We came right out and starting hitting the ball early,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “I expected us to pitch and play defense well, but it was such a welcome thing for a team to start out hitting the ball well.”

Despite being hot at the plate most of the weekend, the Utes were unable to get the bats going against No. 15 Washington, as they fell 5-0 to the Huskies.

“We didn’t adjust at the plate,” Hogue said after the loss to UW. “They had a good pitcher, but we didn’t try to adjust and put the ball in play.”

In Utah’s other loss of the weekend, an 11-5 loss to Loyola Marymount, batting wasn’t the problem for the Utes. They instead struggled on the mound.

Utah pitchers Joni Cook, Lindsey Palmer and Brittany Parker gave up 11 runs on 11 hits, while walking an astounding nine batters and earning only four strikeouts.

“That was a difficult game for us8212;none of our pitchers could really get going and we struggled,” Hogue said. “Our pitchers will get more comfortable as the season goes on though.”

Pitching was one of the biggest struggles the Utes dealt with, which was partly because of adjusting to playing on dirt.

“They didn’t have a perfectly flat surface like they have been used to in practice, and for some of them that really hindered their game,” Hogue said.

The Utes are hoping to combat the problem this week by building a sandbox to create a makeshift mound for the pitchers to practice on.

Aside from difficulties on the mound, the Utes made the transition from indoor play to outdoor play seamlessly.

In their first weekend playing on dirt, the Utes only committed two errors in their five games.

“Our defense was almost perfect and that usually isn’t something you can get the first time playing outside on the dirt,” Hogue said. “We saw a lot of promise in our defense this weekend.”

With the defense looking comfortable after its first five games, the Utes are planning on spending the week in practice working on their offensive game and adjusting their pitchers’ command on the mound.

“We had some weaknesses with pitches exposed this weekend,” Hogue said. “Some of our players really struggled with specific pitches and we’re going to try and work through those this week.”

The Utes will be back indoors practicing this week before heading to Las Vegas to take part in the Louisville Slugger Classic this weekend.

[email protected]