Utah loses five at Wildcat Invitational

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

Oh, how things change.

After starting the season with a promising 7-3 record, the Utah softball team returns from Arizona with a losing record and a five-game losing streak to boot.

The Utes were unable to keep their four-game winning streak from last weekend alive as they dropped all five games, including two losses to North Dakota State and three to No. 11 Arizona at the Wildcat Invitational this past weekend in Tucson, Ariz.

“We faced a top-10 caliber team in Arizona and respectable team in North Dakota State and there were moments we played well and moments we didn’t,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “We weren’t playing like we had been in Vegas8212;we weren’t attacking teams.”

The Utes seemed to have two different problems when it came to facing the two teams in the tournament.

Against North Dakota State, Utah was unable to score once on base, while against the Wildcats, the Utes were unable to control Arizona’s powerful offense.

In both games against North Dakota State, Utah earned as many hits as the Bison did but weren’t able to turn those hits into runs, as Utah left 10 runners on base in the two games.

“We came into both of those games on our heels, waiting for something to happen8212;and something bad happened,” Hogue said. “We gave up some runs on walks in the first innings and we didn’t know how to recover.”

Although the Utes also struggled to create offense against Arizona, it was Utah’s pitchers who had the hardest time against the Wildcats.

The Utah pitching staff gave up an astounding 36 hits, walked 13 batters and only earned eight strikeouts as Arizona scored 34 runs in the three games.

“We walked more kids than you ever want to,” Hogue said. “Our pitchers are walking too many people and we’re going to go home and work on that.”

Pitching, however, wasn’t the only aspect of the game the Utes struggled with against Arizona, as Utah had a hard time getting its bats going as well.

The Utes only earned three runs in 17 innings, two of which were home runs, as 16 Utah batters were struck out.

“We left a lot of players on base this weekend,” Hogue said. “You can’t win ball games if you leave them all stranded.”

Utah’s defense seemed to be the only thing that didn’t struggle this weekend as the Utah fielders gave up only four errors in the five games.

“Our defense has been there from day one and that’s what we are priding ourselves in right now,” Hogue said. “They have been solid and they are getting comfortable playing next to each other.”

Despite returning to Utah on a five-game losing streak, the Utes aren’t hanging their heads. They instead plan to use the losses to improve.

“That is what preseason tournaments are for, to face tough teams and to make adjustments on day three,” Hogue said. “The girls are glad we came because it gives them a chance to really get better.”

The Utes will be back in Utah for three days of practice before traveling to San Diego to take part in the San Diego Classic.

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Lennie Mahler

Andrea Hoffman and the Utes Softball team suffered five losses over the weekend at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson AZ.