Utes hope for consistency in Slugger Classic

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

Inconsistent is the word that could be used to sum up last season for the Utah softball team.

The Utes’ 2008 season was filled with impressive upsets over top teams such as Texas, DePaul, San Diego State and Texas Tech, but despite being able to collect big wins, the team also suffered disappointing losses against teams such as Utah State and UNLV.

“Last year, we struggled with beating teams that on paper we should have beaten, but then we’d turn around and beat top 25 teams,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “That really hurts our RPI and we won’t let that happen with this team.”

Last season, the Utes finished with a 28-27 record, going 10-10 in Mountain West Conference play, which was good enough to place No. 3 in the MWC.

In her second year as oach at Utah, Hogue is hoping her team can be more consistent and improve on last year’s record.

“I really want to come out and show that those inconsistencies are not going to happen this year,” Hogue said.

After opening the 2009 season last weekend with wins against Utah State, Utah Valley University and San Jose State, Hogue said her team is already showing signs of improving on last season’s inconsistencies.

“The girls came out and showed me that they aren’t going to let mistakes like that happen,” she said. “They showed that we can beat the Utah State’s and Utah Valley’s out there.”

Despite losing games to then-No. 15 Washington and Loyola Marymount last weekend to give the Utes a 3-2 start to the season, Hogue was still pleased with her team’s performance in its first tournament of the season.

“They lost to two really good teams,” Hogue said. “Against Washington, we started a freshman pitcher and she only allowed five hits. We’re showing a lot of promise for what’s to come.”

After last weekend’s tournament, the Utes aren’t planning on making any changes to the lineup that showed promise of consistent play, especially after the defense allowed only two errors in five games.

The only positions that will see any variation are catcher and second base, but Hogue said the coaching staff is sticking to its plan as it had intended to float players in that position.

Andrea Hoffman and Brooke Olson are sharing responsibilities behind the plate while Bonnie Muir, Laura Dahlberg and Tia Palauni have all been in second base by committee.

“We’ll shift around a little offensively, changing the batting order a little, but nothing too drastic,” Hogue said. “Five games isn’t enough to do anything drastic or to know if we need to make any changes.”

Utah is hoping to continue to show that it can play consistently as it travels to Las Vegas this weekend to take part in the Louisville Slugger Classic.

Utah will face Nevada, Portland State, Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis in the three-day tournament that kicks off today.

The Utes will begin the tournament with a matchup against the No. 18 ranked Nevada Wolfpack at 11:15 a.m. on Friday.

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