Softball: Utes riding 10-game winning streak all the way to Hawaii

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— File photo

After two wins in Calif., the Utah softball team is heading to Hawaii to play in the Hawaii Spring Fling this weekend. Utah is in the middle of a 10-game winning streak, its second-longest winning streak under head coach Amy Hogue. Their longest such streak was 12 games a few years ago in 2012.

RELATED: UTAH HEADS BACK TO CALIF. FOR DOUBLE HEADER

The Utes are feeling good lately and Hogue continues to be impressed with the way her team is performing, especially during the streak.

“We’ve been doing such a nice job and we need to continue to make that happen,” Hogue said. “The athletes did well and they seemed rested even though we were a little slow at first. We knew it would be a battle to get the wins.”

Freshman pitcher Katie Donovan has shown a number of strong performances and is really showing that she, along with fellow freshman Miranda Viramontes, have the arms to carry the Utes far this season.

“It’s really cool to see these freshman pitchers come in and throw so well,” third baseman Kristen Stewart said.

Donovan threw a complete game in the first of Utah’s double-header with the College of Charleston last weekend. She struck out seven hitters and only allowed one run, improving her record this year to 5-1.

Utah now heads to its last matchups before it begins conference play, where the Utes will face Longwood, East Carolina and Hawaii.

What will continue to be a storyline in Hawaii is just how well senior center fielder Kate Dickman is hitting the ball. After tallying up hits in both games against the Cougars, she has extended her hitting streak to 17 games. It surpassed her old record of 16 games that she had achieved twice before in her career.

In addition to this season’s accomplishment, Dickman has hit safely in 32 of her last 33 games, tallying back to last season. She continues to lead the Utes in the No. 2 position in the batting lineup and has helped the Utes score runs to win games.

Dickman isn’t alone in this hitting success, however. The way Utah has hit the ball has been a strong recipe for success in its games. In fact, the Utes are a perfect 9-0 when at least one player hits a home run. Comparatively, they are just 5-4 when the long ball isn’t working.

Hitting the long ball and solid, consistent pitching seem to be major parts of Utah’s blueprint and it’s leading the Utes to some hard-earned victories.

“Every game at this level is extremely hard to win, but good teams find ways to win,” Hogue said.

Though, Hogue is quick to comment that there is plenty of room for improvement.

Part of this success has been the closeness and chemistry that the team has together. They have stood strong throughout the long process of the preseason and during their games so far this year.

“This group has really matured,” Hogue said. “We’ve won so many games by one run.”

While maturity alone won’t win games, the ability to stay poised in tight situations will. This ability and characteristic comes through experience and is something Utah really hopes to see in its final non-conference slates in Hawaii.

Though the competition Utah will play in Hawaii isn’t the caliber of other teams it has seen in 2015, it will still go a long way to show how the Utes perform against these teams. The Rainbow Warriors will likely be Utah’s toughest test as, they enter the tournament with a 12-8 record, having won 4 of their last 5 games.

The Utes first game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. MT.

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