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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Softball: Utes looking to win games in Knoxville, and beyond

Softball: Utes looking to win games in Knoxville, and beyond


When the Utah softball team found out it was going to the NCAA Regionals, the players were stoked to make the trip for the first time since 2006. But the Utes may have been even happier when they found out that they have already played, and beaten, two of the other three teams in their region this season in Tennessee and Longwood.

Unfortunately for Utah, the one team that it hasn’t seen on the year is Virginia Tech — Utah’s opponent Friday afternoon. While the Hokies were virtually unknown to the players and their coaching staff, the Utes are doing their homework leading up to the first tilt of tournament play.

“They are a really solid team, they do a little bit of everything,” head coach Amy Hogue said of the Hokies. “They can hit, they pick it up well, I think their pitching staff is pretty darn solid. We’re gonna have to come with our ‘A’ game for sure.”

As they are playing in the first NCAA tournament game of their lives, it would be safe to assume that some of the Utes are a little nervous heading into the game against VT. Hogue worries that the players’ understandable emotions can alter their play, but also believes these Utes are up for the task.

“The only obstacle for us is just controlling some of the emotions,” Hogue said. “I hope that we can step on to that field and do what we’ve been doing. I feel like we are talented enough to win this thing, and if we can find a way to settle those emotions that we are for sure going to have … I’m hoping we can stay calm and get out there and get our feet wet.”

With the nature of the tournament schedule, it’s not a win-or-go-home scenario. Instead, the Utes will be playing in a double-elimination style of play, where they will play every team in the region and have to lose twice to be sent home. This arrangement can cause problems for a coaching staff, pitching rotations and lineups, and needs the utmost of preparation to make it through.

Senior Kate Dickman admitted that all of her attention right now is solely on the Hokies to ensure that Utah will be sitting in good standing after the first game, but the captain has bigger dreams for her team than just a win on Friday.

“We have this strong belief in ourselves to make it to Oklahoma City [site of National Championship] ultimately, and this is just the first stop on our road to OKC,” Dickman said. “We believe in ourselves and each other so much and I think it’ll prove to be a good weekend for us.”

As a coach, Hogue wants her players to have that mindset, and if everyone on the team is as focused and prepare as Dickman, Virginia Tech will be in for a long night.

Practice is over, the cards are dealt and it’s do-or-die (twice?) time for the Utes, but they feel as if all the work is already done. By sticking to the game it has been playing all season long, Utah has the confidence and swagger of a team that is looking to make some noise on its biggest stage yet.

“I feel like we’re prepared to come in and win games,” Hogue said. “That’s what I’m hoping to do.”

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