‘Keep the ball rolling’

Photo by Brent Uberty.
Photo by Brent Uberty.
When a team is not 100 percent healthy and struggling offensively, it can be hard for a squad to come by wins. That is the case the Utes find themselves in as they travel to Eugene, Ore. this weekend to take on the 12th-ranked Ducks.
Utah has already dropped their first three games in conference play when they were dominated by Oregon State last weekend at home. The Utes were outscored by 17 runs and struggled in nearly every aspect of the game. However, they will travel to Oregon on a winning note, as they got back on track against UVU on Tuesday.
“We take this one game at a time,” says head coach Bill Kinneberg. “It’s important that we play well, sure. Another weekend just doesn’t determine our year. It’s three of our 30 conference games, and they’re all important. They’re all games that are spring boards to the next one but are no more important than the last one.”
Kinneberg has been stressing this season that hitters need to connect with the ball more and get on the bases. This will provide the team with more chances to put some runs on the board, something Utah has been struggling with so far this season. While the runs are nice, the Utes are looking more at the numbers in their win column rather than the numbers on the scoreboard.
“At the end of the year, what’s most important to us is our record,” says freshman Max Schuman. “Just getting on that winning streak and keeping things rolling from here on out is a main factor. It’s just to get that feel of winning … keep the ball rolling.”
Junior Mitch Watrous will start on the mound on Friday with sophomore Bret Helton pitching on Sunday, but the main storyline among the pitchers is that senior Zach Adams will make his first start of the season during the Saturday game.
“[Adams] really pitched well the last few weeks,” Kinneberg says. “This is something that he’s been working towards for a long time, and now that he’s healthy, it’s time for him to give us a lot of good innings … I’m excited to see him start.”
Despite not getting a Pac-12 win yet, the Utes believe they are better than they have played thus far in the year. Schuman believes the Utes can hang with anyone in the country and that they have the talent level to win any game.
“Staying with the process,” Schuman says. “The more we stick with our process and the more we trust kind of what we’ve been doing, the more that is going to continue to happen.”
Last week, the players called a players-only meeting to discuss how the team could get back on track, working toward getting back on the positive side of games. While losses can take a toll on some players, Utah knows it needs to work together if it is going to get back to winning ways in Oregon.
“We all trust each other,” he says. “Obviously we were upset with losing, but no tension in between players, and we all know what we have to do.”
The first game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. MDT on Friday.