Devina Quintero leads the team in hitting after two weekends of play.
Feb. 22, 2006
On Deck - The University of Utah softball team (4-5 overall) remains on the road as it returns to the border region to play in the UTEP Invitational from Feb. 24-26. On the docket in El Paso, Texas, are San Jose State (3-4 overall) and Northern Colorado (3-2 overall) on Friday, Feb. 24; New Mexico State (9-4 overall) and UTEP (2-7 overall) on Saturday, Feb. 25; and New Mexico State again on Sunday, Feb. 26.
The Lineup -
San Jose State - The Spartans own a 3-4 record heading into action this week. SJSU has No. 9 California on the docket before heading to UTEP to face Utah. A pair of Spartans lead the team's offense with Kristy Ballinger and Courtney Lewis both belting hits at a .444 clip. Kelly Harrison owns a 1-1 mark with 1.58 earned-run average in 13.1 innings pitched.
Northern Colorado - The Bears are 3-2 and enter tourney play having won two of their last three. Ashley Martinosky leads the team with a .500 batting average and two home runs. Jessica Milligan leads the team from the circle (2.70 earned-run average) but Shea Carpenter leads the staff with 17.0 innings pitched.
New Mexico State - The Aggies (9-4) and Utes have met earlier this year, with Utah bagging the 3-1 win at the Aggies' Hilton Las Cruces Classic. Stephanie Herrera's .414 batting average is tops while Sara Seagraves' 7-2 record and 1.93 earned-run average also leads the team.
UTEP - The Miners bring a 2-7 mark and have won two of their last three. Six Miners are hitting better than .300, led by Sarah Ramirez's .433 average. Veronica Flournoy sports a team-best 0.90 earned-run average but has only tossed eight innings. Three Miners have worked 14-plus innings, all of whom sport seven-plus ERA's.
"Dr. Dre" - Freshman Andrea Hoffman continues to shine for the Utes. Last weekend, the catcher went 4-for-9 at the plate (.444), scored three runs and plated one RBI. She also drew three walks and laid down a sacrifice. She led the team in slugging percentage (.556) and was second on the team in both on-base percentage (.583) and hitting. Moreover, Hoffman hit her first career double in the fourth inning of the Cal Poly win.
Hitting the "Wong" Ball - Senior Jackie Wong hit only her second career home run last weekend. The leadoff hitter belted a three-run homer in the 5-4, extra-innings loss to Hawaii. For the year, Wong has three extra-base hits, the second most on the team. The lefty slapper also has a double and triple to her credit.
Hit Parade - Diana Phillips and Devina Quintero are sporting a couple of hitting streaks. Going into this weekend's slate, Phillips is boasting a nine-game hitting streak while Quintero is nursing a five-gamer. The nine-game streak ties Phillips' career high while Quintero had a nine-gamer last year and 10-game hitting streak as a freshman.
Home Again - The UTEP Invitational marks a homecoming of sorts for one Ute hurler. Karina Cannon is in her first season with Utah after a two-year stint in the west Texas town of Odessa. Cannon led the Odessa College Wranglers to a regional title, a third-place finish at the 2005 NJCAA National Tournament and also won all-tournament and All-America honors there.
A "Loaded" Question - The Utes are batting .273 when the bases are loaded. They have had the bases juiced 11 times this year and have gotten clutch hits on three of those occasions. Sharee Fonoti, Andrea Hoffman and Devina Quintero are the three Utes that delivered. However, Utah opponents aren't so lucky. Ute hurlers have gotten themselves out all seven bases-loaded scenarios so far this year.
From the Batting Cage - Utah has out-hit four of its last five opponents. For the year, Utah is 4-2 when it out-hits opponents ... Utah is 4-1 when it holds its opponents to one home run or less in a game. However, the Utes are 0-4 when they allow two-plus homers. For the year, the team has surrendered 16 home runs while only hitting seven ... of the team's seven round-trippers, four have been hit by three freshmen (Jessica Shiery, Andrea Hoffman and Staci Hemingway) ... Diana Phillips and Devina Quintero are tops on the team with runners in scoring position. Phillips is 5-for-10 (.500) and Quintero is 4-for-9 (.444). They combine to hit .474 with runners in scoring position ... the team batting average improves by nearly 40 points when the bases are empty. Utah is hitting .289 for the year but is hitting .325 with the bases empty ... Utah has led after the fifth inning four times this year. It's 3-1 in those games. It is 4-0 when it leads after the sixth.
Recap - The Utes improved to 4-5 on the year after going 2-2 at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas last weekend.
The Utes scored wins over Wright State, 5-1, and Cal Poly, 6-4. Utah spotted Wright State a 1-0 lead but scored the final four runs of the game to nab the win. Among it's four runs was a solo home run by Jessica Shiery.
A four-run second inning sparked by a two-run shot by Sharee Fonoti led Utah to the victory over Cal Poly. Meghan Crouse secured the victory when her RBI single in the fourth plated Andrea Hoffman for the game-winning RBI.
Utah losses were a 5-4, eight-inning decision to Hawaii and a 7-2 setback to Illinois. Jackie Wong's three-run home run wasn't enough to lead Utah to win over UH. Hawaii smacked four of its six hits in the last three innings to rally from the 4-1 deficit. Utah had a 2-1 lead after two against Illinois, but the Fighting Illini rallied to score six unanswered runs.
At the Helm - The University of Utah softball team is under the direction of Interim Co-Head Coaches Marianne Bullis and Kyle Magnusson. This is the first stint as head coach for Bullis and Magnusson. Bullis is in her fourth year on the Ute coaching staff while Magnusson is in his second. A search for a full-time head coach will commence at the end of the season.
Preseason Prognosticators - The Utes were picked to finish fifth in the league, according to the preseason coaches poll. Utah earned eight points, one better than sixth-place New Mexico. Brigham Young's 23 points and three first-place votes were good enough for first. Rounding out the rest of the poll is UNLV (22 points, three first-place nods), San Diego State (16), Colorado State (14), Utah (8) and New Mexico (7).
In the Hole - Following the UTEP Invitational, the Utes will head to the Sunshine State Tournament from March 10-12 in Tallahassee, Fla. There Utah will play North Florida, Georgia State and Bradley before heading into bracket play. On March 15-19, Utah heads to the prestigious Kia Classic in Fullerton, Calif., where it will face three nationally-ranked teams *(No. 23 Fresno State, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 7 Alabama).
Utah also has a pick-up game with Fullerton, currently receiving votes.
*(source: ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25).