Kelly Matthews and the Ute softball team will be in Las Vegas for five games this weekend.
Feb. 13, 2007
On Deck - The University of Utah softball team (2-2-1 overall) continues its extended preseason road swing when it ventures to Las Vegas for the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, Sat.-Mon., Feb. 17-19. The Utes will put their two-game winning streak on the line when they play Oklahoma State (noon) and Florida International (3 p.m.) on Saturday, Oregon (2 p.m.) and Hawaii (4 p.m.) on Sunday and Seton Hall (9 a.m.) on Monday. All times are PST.
Quoting Head Coach Angie Jacobs:
On the Desert Classic: "For the most part, we are still getting our feet wet. We have some players that are playing out of position and we need to get them comfortable in their new spots. We need to get more reps, defensively, so that our comfort level improves at the end of this weekend.
"We also need to take advantage of our time at the plate and we need to make better plays defensively. I'm also looking for our pitchers to come out with more confidence this weekend."
On Last Week: "Even though we lost to Stanford, we had the same amount of hits as them. We played the No. 8-ranked team (Stanford) in the nation for our first game on the dirt and I think we were a little unsettled at that moment.
"But overall, I couldn't be happier with the effort and level of play from last weekend. We played three top-20 teams and showed a lot of character and desire to be better than last year. We could have easily folded against Texas on the third day but we battled them and showed that we wanted to be a better team this season."
It Was the Best of Times - Staci Hemingway has picked up where she left off from last year's postseason. She currently leads the team in hitting this season, smacking the ball around the park at a .444 clip. In the five games last weekend, she was 8-for-18 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI. Hemingway put an exclamation point on the 2006 campaign, leading the team in hitting .368 in the MWC and NCAA postseasons.
Bagged Me a Homer - The Utes hit six home runs last weekend. Of the six round-trippers, four came from the bat of newcomers. Two came from the swings of freshman Kara Foster, while one each came from Kristie Keller and Tori Medina. In addition to hitting her first home run, Foster belted her first grand slam in the 11-6 win over Nevada.
Dependable Di - Diana Phillips was Utah's top returning hitter from last season. She hit .350 during the 2006 season. She returned to open the 2007 schedule in hitting .357. She was 5-for-14 last weekend with one double. Moreover, she has the best on-base percentage, reaching 55 percent of the time. In addition to her 14 at bats, she also leads the team with six walks.
"Davenport" Of Call - Hailey Davenport chalked up her first collegiate homer last weekend. The sophomore did it in a big way too. Trailing 4-3 to No. 17 Texas in the bottom of the seventh, Davenport pinch hit and sent a solo shot over the left field fence to send the game to extra innings. Utah went on to upend the national power in 10 innings, 5-4.
To "Dyer" For - Pitcher Meghan Dyer averaged 9.2 strikeouts per game last season. The senior hurler enters the second week of action averaging 12.6 K's per game. That number is buoyed by her last two outings. She fanned 16 batters in seven innings of work against Nevada and whiffed six in four innings against No. 17 Texas. The 16 K's against the Wolfpack ties the school's single-game record set by Ali Andrus in 1994.
Streak Speak - Three Utes have a hitting streak going into the second week of play. Second baseman Meghan Crouse has a five-game hitting streak while Diana Phillips and Staci Hemingway have hit safely in four straight.
The Oregon Trail - Head coach Angie Jacobs' career path led her through one of the programs she will face in Las Vegas this weekend. Jacobs was an assistant at the University of Oregon from 1994-96. She was an assistant on the Ducks' staff just prior to joining the Ute staff as their assistant (1996-98).
Balls and Strikes - Utah is 1-2 against nationally-ranked teams. It beat then-No. 17 Texas, 5-4, and lost to then-No. 8 Stanford, 5-2, and then-No. 13 Texas A&M, 10-3 ... the Utes are 1-0 in extra-inning games. They beat No. 17 Texas in 10 innings, 5-4 ... Kara Foster's four-RBI game against Nevada is a season-high ... seven of the nine starters have already had multi-hit games after the first weekend ... Utah has had as many or more hits than four of its five opponents this season ... the team has had at least one error in each of the first five games .. four Utes made their first career starts (freshmen Kara Foster, Kristie Keller, Tori Medina and sophomore Hailey Davenport) while the three freshmen all recorded their first-ever collegiate hit.
Scouting the Opponents - Oklahoma State is 3-2 this year with both losses coming to then-No. 7 Alabama last week. Florida International is 0-5 this year while Oregon (4-1) and Hawaii (5-1) both opened play last weekend as well. Seton Hall begins the 2007 campaign this week, coming off of a 29-27 season that included a 7-15 mark in the BIG EAST.
Last Week - The Utes went 2-2-1 at the season-opening Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., last weekend.
Day one saw Utah spot both No. 8 Stanford and Northridge 5-0 leads. A pair of wild pitches allowed Utah to score two runs on Stanford but it wasn't enough as the Cardinal edged Utah, 5-2. Utah rallied from a 5-0 deficit versus Northridge, tying it just as the game was called because of darkness. It was Kristie Keller's first career home run in the seventh that knotted the game at the final score of 5-5.
Eight errors and nine unearned runs allowed Texas A&M to run away with a 10-3 win in the first game of the second day. Kara Foster's grand slam home run and Meghan Dyer's 16 K's powered Utah to a 10-6 win over Nevada in the nightcap.
Hailey Davenport's pinch-hit, solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game at 4-4 and Staci Hemingway's RBI single in the 10th plated the game-winning run as Utah upended the No. 17-ranked Texas Longhorns. Dyer came on in relief to fan six batters in four innings of work.
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 Utah's doubleheader at UNLV on April 5 will be seen on the mtn. Live Internet radio and gametracker will also be available for all home games 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 174-247-1 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 - Utah's road trip continues in El Paso, Texas for the UTEP Invitational (Feb. 23-25) where it will play Wisconsin, UTEP, Northern Colorado and Buffalo. Then the Utes venture to the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tampa, Fla. (March 2-4). The Utes play at UVSC on March 13 and then hit the road for the Aztec Invitational (March 16-18) and for three games on the campus of Cal State Fullerton (March 20-23).