Utes hope to take confidence to Hawaii

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

The Utah women’s softball team went into last weekend’s tournament with one major goal in mind: build confidence at the plate.

Despite coming home from their Texas road swing with a 2-3 record, the Utes were able to wake their bats as the 10-game hitting slump came to an end.

For Utah, getting back in the swing of things took some stepping back and returning to the basics.

“Before, we were trying to do something big when we just needed to do something small and find a hole anywhere we can,” said senior Kara Foster. “We finally relaxed in the box and trusted what we know how to do best.”

The Utah coaching staff and its support played a big role in building the team’s confidence in the box back up.

“We rallied around them emotionally, rather than working physically around mechanics and their swings,” said head coach Amy Hogue. “We pushed that other side that matters so much to girls, which is emotions, and it really gave them an uplift.”

The Utes are hoping to carry some of that confidence into this week’s tournament as they head to Hawaii for the four-day Chevron Spring Fling.

Because of the early start to the tournament, Utah won’t have the opportunity to practice before taking the six-and-a-half-hour flight to Hawaii.

Despite not having the time to make any adjustments after last weekend, the Utes aren’t concerned about not getting to practice.

“It’s not a concern,” said junior pitcher Ashley Smuda. “We’ve all been playing this game 10 to 12 years8212;it’s just like any other day.”

With this being the last preseason tournament before beginning regular season play, Utah will be looking to get settled in its lineup, but its biggest focus will be keeping the bats awake.

“We’ve still been floating kids back and forth,” Hogue said. “We want to get more settled in our lineup before we open conference. We’re going to try to get some consistency in what we started last weekend and continue to find comfort in the box because that will be critical in conference.”

Utah’s tournament starts Wednesday with a 7 p.m. game against Memphis before facing the host school, the Hawaii Warriors, in the last game of the day at 9 p.m.

Utah also will face Radford, St. John’s, Wisconsin and No. 9 California in the remaining three days of the tournament.

Although the Utes want to continue to improve their skills, enjoying the game is one thing the team hopes to accomplish in Hawaii.

“We just want to have fun, relax and play like us,” Smuda said. “You can have all the technical, mechanical skills in the world but if you’re not having fun, there is no point in being out there. If you keep it fun, the wins will happen.”

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