Karina Cannon and the Utah softball team play five games in Tampa, Fla., this weekend.
Feb. 27, 2007
On Deck - The University of Utah softball program (9-6-1 overall) continues its road swing through the warm weather states when it plays in the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tampa, Fla., this weekend. The five-game docket features Auburn (11 a.m.) and New Mexico State (8 p.m.) on Friday, South Florida (6 p.m.) and Maryland (8 p.m.) on Saturday and Central Michigan (11 a.m.) on Sunday. All times are EST.
Quoting Head Coach Angie Jacobs:
On the USF Louisville Slugger Tourney: "It's going to be a long trip across the country. But, we are looking forward to the competition that we'll see at the USF Tournament. This will be five more opportunities for us to work on our game. This gives our student-athletes the chance to become more comfortable at their new positions and to get more repetitions at the plate. We have become more comfortable, as a whole, but I'd like to see us get more comfortable. When that happens, we'll start to play better softball."
On the Team's Progress Thus Far: "We are definitely a better team today than we were on the first day of the season. I attribute that to playing a tougher schedule and to getting some good repetitions. We've learned a lot thus far, but we are still learning about each other, how to play in our new positions and how to win as a team."
"H-Bombs" - In the first 16 games, the Utes have already hit 21 home runs. What makes that fact most impressive is that Utah hit 36 home runs in 61 games last year. The team averages 1.31 home runs per game this season. Moreover, two new faces to the line up are Utah's biggest hitters. Freshman Kara Foster leads the team with seven bombs while first-year starter and sophomore Hailey Davenport is just behind with six.
That's Just Sick - Diana Phillips, the reigning MWC Player of the Week, posted some eye-popping numbers at the UTEP Invitational last weekend. In six games, she hit .647 (11-for-17). That number is buoyed by two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 10 RBI. The leadoff hitter also drew six walks and scored 10 runs. Phillips had a gaudy 1.353 slugging percentage and had an on-base percentage of .750.
Turn the Beat Around - Talk about turning it around, Kelly Matthews hit a meager .120 (3-for-25) in the first nine games of the season. That stretch included a season-opening 0-for-16 effort. But, in the last seven games, Matthews has been an offensive force. During that span, she hit .421 (8-for-19). Her season average of .120 has jumped up to a respectable .250 (11-for-44).
Foe-miliar Faces - Head coach Angie Jacobs will see another familiar rival across the diamond this weekend. On Sunday, her Utes will play Mid-American Conference member Central Michigan, a team Jacobs saw the previous eight years as head coach of Miami University (also a MAC member). In fact, this isn't the only MAC rival Jacobs will reacquaint herself with this season. She already beat Buffalo twice (9-5 and 10-1) and has yet to face her former team, Miami, on March 16.
The Hit Parade - Six of the nine hitters in Utah's line up are hitting around .300 or better. Pacing the starters is leadoff hitter Diana Phillips. She hits a team-best .426. Staci Hemingway is hitting .367 while Hailey Davenport (.366) is also hitting better than .360. Rounding out the rest of Utah's top hitters are freshman Kara Foster (.346), JUCO transfer Kristie Keller (.320) and junior Meghan Crouse (.296).
The Dyer Effect - Senior hurler Meghan Dyer continues to overwhelm her opponents. In five appearances (22 innings) last weekend, Dyer fanned an impressive 47 batters. That means that Dyer, on average, accounted for two outs per inning. In addition to those numbers, Dyer had a 0.64 earned-run average and a .147 opponent batting average. For the season, Dyer has 101 K's and is averaging 13.0 per game. She has a 2.06 ERA and holds rival batters to just .192 hitting.
Balls and Strikes - Utah is 1-4 versus teams mentioned in the national poll. 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. Both Oregon and Hawaii were receiving votes in the national rankings and topped Utah, 6-0 and 3-1, respectively ... the Utes are 1-1 in extra-inning games. They beat No. 17 Texas in 10 innings, 5-4, and lost to UTEP, 3-2, in eight ... Hailey Davenport currently has an eight-game hitting streak while Kara Foster has hit safely in the last seven ... nearly half of the team's RBI have come with two outs (29-of-70) ... Utah's batting average soars to .307 when there are runners on base. It's even higher (.393) when there's a runner on third and less than two outs ... the Utes have had as many or more hits than their opponent in seven straight games ... Utah is 5-0 when it reaches double-digit hits ... it is 1-1 when its opponents top the 10-hit plateau ... Utah's 15 hits in the 9-5 win over Buffalo are a season high ... the team has outscored its opponents, 24-13, in innings six and seven combined ... three of the top four in slugging percentage in the MWC are Utes. Davenport (.854) is tops while Foster (.769) is third and Diana Phillips (.766) fourth ... Meghan Dyer (101) and Karina Cannon (52) are Nos. 1-2 in the league in K's ... the Utes are 9-1-1 when they score more than three runs. But, they are 0-5 when they score two or fewer.
Scouting the Opponents - Auburn is 7-9 on the year and comes to the tournament having lost two of its last three. New Mexico State is 12-4 on the year and has lost two of its last three as well. South Florida enters the tournament 11-6 overall, playing all of its games at home or in the Tampa, Fla., area. The Bulls have won six of their last seven. The Maryland Terrapins are 3-2, winning in three of their last four, while Central Michigan is 1-4.
Last Week - Utah went 5-1 at the UTEP Invitational last weekend. It saw its six-game winning streak snapped in the tournament championship loss to UTEP, 3-2 (8).
Utah got off to a 2-0 start on day one, topping Wisconsin, 7-1, and UTEP, 6-1. Kara Foster went 3-for-4 with a home run against the Badgers while Diana Phillips went 4-for-4 against the Miners with a double and a triple.
It kept rolling for the Utes on day two as they bagged 8-0 and 9-5 wins over Northern Colorado and Buffalo, respectively. Hailey Davenport led the Utes against UNC, belting a two-run homer and going 2-for-3 at the plate. Utah spotted Buffalo a 4-0 lead but outscored the Bulls, 9-1, in the final five innings. Phillips was 3-for-4 with four RBI while Kelly Matthews was a perfect 4-for-4 against the Bulls.
Sunday saw Utah beat Buffalo 10-1 and advance to the tournament championship against UTEP. Utah spotted the Miners a 2-0 lead. But Utah rallied to tie it at 2-2. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, a two-out RBI single by Davenport would send the game to extra frames. But, UTEP scored on a wild pitch in the eighth, lifting the Miners past Utah in the final game.
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 181-251-1 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 - The Utes will play an in-state road game at UVSC (March 13) before they venture off to the West coast to play in the Aztec Invitational (March 16-18). Utah will then play three games in Fullerton, Calif., against Washington (March 20), Fullerton (March 21) and Ohio State (March 23).