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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Softball finalizes tough schedule

By Liz Frome

It looks as though the Utah softball program will have its hands full come February.

The Utes’ recently finalized schedule includes six opponents that finished the 2009 season in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll8212;Washington (1), Michigan (6), California (11), Baylor (15), Oklahoma (16), and Northwestern (18). The Utes are scheduled to play Oklahoma on three separate occasions.

Head coach Amy Hogue said the schedule was designed to be tough so the program could play against some of the best competition in the country.

“Our schedule is extremely hard, especially in the preseason, and that’s how we hope it is every year,” Hogue said. “We want as good of competition as we can get early on to gage where we’re at.”

Senior Kara Foster, Utah’s home run record holder at 35 career round-trips, said she and her teammates are looking forward to the tough challenge ahead of them.

“Our coaches have a purpose for every team we play, and we have our purpose every practice to get ready for those teams,” Foster said. “We can step up…our team is strong, and we can push though it.”

Last season, the Utes had a similarly difficult schedule and finished the season 22-31 overall. The team had a Mountain West Conference record of 4-10 and did not make it to postseason play.

Hogue said last year’s team might have been thrown one too many tough opponents and wasn’t able to handle the matchups as well as she had hoped.

“I don’t think (the schedule) is too much (this year),” Hogue said. “Our team is getting more and more prepared to handle (tough games).”

Hogue said she intentionally plans for a difficult schedule to give Utah’s program a chance to gain recognition on a national level.

“We want to get into that NCAA bracket this year,” she said. “That’s how you get on the map.”

With several athletes returning for another year with the Utes, Hogue said she thinks the players have enough experience to make sure they chalk up wins against teams they should beat. She said the team suffered significant losses to programs it should have easily beaten, keeping the Utes out of the postseason in 2009.

“We have a lot of players that have experience now,” Hogue said. “We just need to make sure that those losses don’t happen again.”

Since the end of the 2009 season in May, the Utes have undergone many changes that Hogue said she believes will be beneficial to the program’s desired success. Cody Thomson, a longtime volunteer coach, was added to the coaching staff as a full-time pitching coach, and several new athletes joined the program. Hogue said the staff has just finalized where players will be positioned in the field, and all the athletes will be informed of their roles by Monday.

“I think we’ve made some pretty bold decisions and changes,” Hogue said.
The Utes head to St. George to open their season in the Red Desert Classic on February 12 to 14. Utah will face San Jose State in its first game of the 2010 schedule.

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