In its 2018 Pac-12 opener, the University of Utah softball team is heading to Tucson, Arizona, to play three games against the No. 9 University of Arizona. Utah is riding a seven-game winning streak and is ready to take that momentum into play this weekend.
“I’m just excited to be back in that type of atmosphere, I think that Pac-12 play is so fun and exciting,” said sophomore Alyssa Barrera. “Every game up until the last out keeps you up on your feet. I’m excited for the fans to be out there, and for the whole team to experience it. It is a feeling that you will never get from anything else.”
Utah is coming off of a successful weekend in Maryland, where the team went 5-0 in its final preseason tournament of the season. Katie Donovan and Miranda Viramontes each threw more than 10 strikeouts in a game.
The Utes also dominated at the plate as Hailey Hilburn had a .500 batting average, Alyssa Palacios recorded five RBIs and Kelly Martinez had two home runs.
Moving into its first weekend of Pac-12 play, the team is ready to face this heightened competition in Arizona. Utah has been getting ready to step up its game for Arizona for over the past month.
“I think that the team is ready for Pac-12 play,” said sophomore BreOnna Castaneda. “I think that we have prepared a lot as a team, and we have done everything that we can and have had to do up to this point, and I’m just excited to see us go out there and do it.”
Last year in the Pac-12, the Utes had their best season since 1997, with a 37-16 record.
Also in 2017, Utah won two out of three games at home against then No. 1 ranked Arizona, a team that was also undefeated in Pac-12 play. Utah has a 1-8 record against Arizona on the road in Tucson, last winning at Arizona two years ago.
In order to step up to this higher level of play, Utah has been working hard on its hitting, so it will be prepared for the pitches in Arizona.
“We focused a lot on preparing for the pitchers that we are going to face. We have a gameplan and we are looking good,” said Barrera. “As long as we stick to the game plan both individually and as a team, we will stick together well and we should be really successful this weekend.”
The Utes are entering this weekend with a 14-7 record. The players are confident in their own play and as long as they keep the game simple, they plan to have success over the weekend.
The Utes will face Arizona for the first game on Friday, March 16 at 8 p.m. MT in Tucson, Arizona, at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.