Karina Cannon and the Ute softball team has five games on tap this weekend.
Feb. 5, 2007
On Deck - The University of Utah softball team (0-0 overall) launches its 2007 campaign when it begins the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State is the host institution. Utah has the heady of task of playing some of the best softball programs in the nation, battling Stanford and Cal State Northridge on Friday, Texas A&M and Nevada on Saturday, and Texas on Sunday.
Quoting Head Coach Angie Jacobs:
On the Kajikawa Classic: "We are looking forward to the games at Arizona State this weekend. It's going to be a challenging schedule that begins with us playing nationally-ranked Stanford.
"This is going to be a great chance for us to see our strengths and weaknesses and it will give us the opportunity to come back to town and make adjustments based on what we learn down there."
On preseason preparations: "This team couldn't be any more ready to play. We've been practicing indoors and we are very excited to move outside and get at it. Playing inside for the last month takes its toll, so we are excited to get outside and to play ball."
Outlook - The Utes return seven letterwinners and four starters from last year's team that went 40-21 overall and 10-8 in league play.
Headlining the returning players are two-time all-conference center fielder, Diana Phillips, and the team's top pitcher tandem, Karina Cannon and Meghan Dyer. Phillips is the team's top returning hitter (.350) while Cannon went 20-8 in the circle and Dyer averaged 9.2 K's per game.
Also highlighting the returning players will be Staci Hemingway. She saw action at first base last season but will move to shortstop for the 2007 campaign. She hit .263 last year but saw her average bump up to an impressive .368 in Utah's eight postseason games. Outfielder Meghan Crouse and catcher Andrea Hoffman complete the list of returners and should see a larger role on the team this season.
The lineup will boast four new faces this season. JUCO transfer Kristie Keller will patrol second base while freshman Tori Medina will man third. Returner Hailey Davenport will play first base, having seen limited action as a freshman last year, while rookie Kara Foster will take the field in right.
Preseason Poll - The Mountain West Conference preseason coaches poll selected the Ute softball team to finish in fourth place. Leading the poll and picked to win the conference was San Diego State with five first-place votes and 25 points. Trailing the Aztecs were UNLV (19 points), BYU (17 and one first-place vote), Utah (14), Colorado State (10) and New Mexico (5).
Can She Keep it Going? - Staci Hemingway is the only Ute to enter the season on a hitting streak. She ended the season with hits against UT-San Antonio, Indiana and Texas in the NCAA Tournament.
Familiar Faces - Utah will see a familiar face across the diamond when it battles Texas A&M on Saturday. Aggie head coach Jo Evans coached the Utes from 1990-96, guiding the team to the 1994 College World Series berth. She owned a 222-143 record as Utah's coach.
Going Out on Top - The Mountain West Conference changed its postseason format for the 2007 season. The league dropped the MWC Tournament from its schedule and added another week of non-conference action. The league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament will now go to the regular season champion in lieu of the conference tournament winner. The final MWC Tourney crown rests in Utah's trophy case.
Scouting the Tournament - All five opponents open the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. However, three of the five opponents this weekend are ranked in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 25. Stanford (42-18 in 2006) is No. 8, Texas A&M (34-19) is No. 13 and Texas (55-9) checks in at No. 17. Cal Northridge finished the 2006 season 22-20 while Nevada was 33-33.
Air Time - Select Mountain West Conference softball games will be televised on either CSTV or the mtn. this year. Utah's game at BYU (April 27) will air on CSTV while the Utes will have the opportunity to be seen on the mtn., when it releases its full broadcast schedule. In addition to TV games, fans can listen to Internet radio broadcasts or watch live stats on Utah's Web site, www.utahutes.com.
At the Helm - Head coach Angie Jacobs is in her first season as Utah's head coach. She brings eight years head coaching experience to the post, having guided the Miami University RedHawks during that time. She owns a 172-245 career record. Jacobs has 16 years of coaching experience, having been an assistant coach eight years prior to taking the helm at MU. Among her stops as assistant coach was a turn on the bench at Utah (1996-98). Her assistants are Debbie Bilbao and Brandon Twiss.
In the Hole - The 36-game road swing continues for the softball team as it competes in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas on Feb. 17-19. The five-game tournament has Utah battling Oklahoma State, Florida International, Oregon, Hawaii and Seton Hall. Utah follows that up with the UTEP Invitational (Feb. 23-25) and the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tampa, Fla. (March 2-4).