Utes’ new senior leadership ready to hit the new season hard

The Utah softball team is swinging for the fences this season, both literally and figuratively, as they have high expectations coming into 2015. The Utes will learn where they stand in relation to other top teams when they go up against two preseason-top 25 teams this weekend in Cal., No. 24 Texas A&M; and No. 22 Notre Dame.

Utah’s first few games will tell a lot about the team and where they hope to be heading this season.

“I’m looking forward to putting all the hard work we’ve had in the offseason … on the field,” said senior captain Kate Dickman.

Dickman will lead the team as the centerfielder this season. She is clearly the veteran leader on the squad and has the most experience under her belt, finishing last season with an above-average .415 batting average.

Dickman looks to keep that number high as she leads the team with the “C” on her chest, but she is outnumbered with underclassmen at almost every other starting position.

The Utes have a great young core in the infield with all of their starters returning from last season. At third base is junior Kristen Stewart, but the rest of the infield is made up of sophomores. Anissa Urtez will start at shortstop, captain Hannah Flippen will start at second base and Bridget Castro will start at first base.

The infield has chemistry and already know how to play with one another, a quality you need in collegiate athletics.

Shelby Pacheco is a junior and will be the quarterback of the team behind the plate at catcher.

The Utes added depth to their already talented pitching staff, which is another thing for the team to be excited about. Ute head coach Amy Hogue is looking for the young leaders of the team to help out these incoming freshmen since a lot of the starters were in that position not too long ago.

Regarding her veteran team, Hogue enjoyed being able to jump right into actual practice without needing to take time out for housekeeping issues.

“It’s been fun to skip a few things,” Hogue said. “It’s nice not to have to do that, but at the same time, we have a lot of areas where we can improve.”

Hogue is also very excited to see the girls finally put to work everything they have been preparing for in the offseason.

“I want to see some of the things in games that I’ve already seen from them in practice,” Hogue said.

Flippen is just as excited about playing with the team as she is just being around her teammates.

“I’m excited to travel and get to know the team a lot better,” Flippen said. “The girls on the team are so nice and lovable.”

Regarding her position as captain, Flippen knows it is a responsibility that requires her to be her very best.

“I’ve learned to get better at being a leader both on and off the field, and using my voice,” Flippen said.

Flippen went on to say how becoming an overall better teammate is another goal for her this season.

With all the senior leadership that the Utes have this year, they are looking to make a big splash in the conference and taking a huge stride forward as a team in 2015.

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