Jackie Wong and the Utah softball team venture to Florida this weekend.
March 7, 2006
On Deck - The University of Utah softball team (8-5 overall) heads to the Sunshine State Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend. The tourney, hosted by Florida State, is from March 10-12 and pits Utah against North Florida (11-7 overall) and Georgia State (5-9 overall) on Friday, March 10. Play continues against Bradley (6-4 overall) on Saturday, March 11, with bracket play starting later that afternoon and extending into Sunday, March 12.
The Lineup -
North Florida - The Ospreys are 11-7 on the season and are currently in the middle of nine-game-in-six-days stretch. Leading UNF are Christina Evans and Tori Ahern. Evans leads the offense with a .433 batting average, six double and 11 RBI. Ahern is the top hurler, sporting a 4-2 mark and a 1.82 earned-run average.
Georgia State - The Panthers bring a 5-9 mark into the tournament, having won two of their last three. Mary Kathryn Branan (.353, six doubles and nine RBI) is the top hitter while Elizabeth Hyman is the top pitcher. She is 3-4 on the year with a 3.20 earned-run average.
Bradley - The Braves are 6-4 so far this season and have lost two of their last three heading into the tournament. BU is led at the plate by Trisha Kowalewski. She is hitting .421 and also leads the team in slugging and on-base percentage. The Braves' top thrower is Brittany Dehler. She is a perfect 4-0 this year with a paltry 0.27 earned-run average.
The Perfect Storm - Junior hurler Meghan Dyer threw a perfect game in the 8-0, six-inning win over UTEP on Feb. 25. Dyer didn't allow any of the 18 batters to reach base, fanning a career-high 11 herself. Dyer is the seventh Ute in program history to toss a perfect game. The last Ute hurler to do it was Ali Andrus-Sagus in 1997.
"Dyer" Maker - Hurler Meghan Dyer led the way as Utah went 4-0 at the UTEP Invitational and chalked up its fifth straight win. Dyer went 3-0 in three appearances and went for 11 innings of work last weekend. She, chalked up two shutouts and mowed down 17 batters while allowing only three walks and two hits. Opponents hit .056 against her. For the year, Dyer leads the Utes with 44 K's and with an opponent batting average of .164. She is 5-1 with a 2.74 earned-run average this year.
Hitting On All Cylinders - Senior Jackie Wong was an offensive force at the UTEP Invitational. She hit a blistering .714, going 10-for-14 at the plate in the four games. She led Utah in hits and with a .929 slugging percentage and a .733 on-base percentage. Her efforts last weekend boosted her season batting average from .344 to a team-best .457.
Cheaper By the Dozen - Diana Phillips saw her hitting streak halted at 12 games last week. The 12-gamer is a career-high for Phillips. She entered action last week with a nine-game hitting streak and tallied hits in each of the first three games of the UTEP Invitational. However, New Mexico State was the first team to silence her bat this year. Phillips has had a hit in 12 of the team's 13 games so far this season. Currently nursing streaks are Jackie Wong and Jessica Shiery with hits in the last four games while Staci Hemingway has a hit in each of the last three. Letting Out the Clutch - When it has come to clutch situations, freshman Andrea Hoffman has risen to the occasion. She is hitting .429 (3-for-7) with runners in scoring position and is 2-for-2 with the bases loaded. Also coming through for the Utes so far this year are: Diana Phillips, who hits a team-best .462 (6-for-13) with runners in scoring position; Devina Quintero, .375 (6-for-16); and Jackie Wong, .444 (4-for-9).
A Staff Outing - Talking about night and day, the Ute pitching staff turned up the heat in its last weekend of work. For the year, the four pitchers combine for a 3.45 earned-run average and a .239 opponent batting average. Yet, at UTEP, the staff held its rivals to a .115 batting average and combined to record an eye-popping 0.28 ERA.
From the Batting Cage - In its last weekend, Utah out-scored its opponents 22-2. It also out-hit them, 33-10 ... the 33 hits last weekend account for one third of the team's hits this season ... the team's batting average has been above .300 in two of the first three weeks. After last weekend's outtings, Utah is hitting .303 ... the Utes are hitting .333 (5-for-15) when the bases are loaded. However, Utah's pitching has stymied its opponents, holding it to a .100 (1-for-10) average with the bases juiced ... Utah has hit 15 doubles in its first 13 games (1.15 per game). In 50 games last year, it only hit 33 (0.66) ... the Utes had eight extra-base hits last weekend compared to only one by their opponents ... since Karina Cannon and Meghan Dyer took over starting pitching duties, the Utes have gone 8-2 ... Dyer's 44 strikeouts account for 54.3 percent of team's K's.
Recap - The Utes captured the UTEP Invitational title in going 4-0 in the non-conference, round-robin tournament on Feb. 24-26.
Utah got off to a good start in bagging its first of two 8-0 wins, this one in five innings against San Jose State. The Utes rattled off eight runs in the first frame as six different Utes collected hits in the win. They were led by Andrea Hoffman's three-run double.
The Utes revisited their rivalry with New Mexico State, topping the Aggies in two games, 4-1 and 2-1. Jackie Wong led the Utes in both the NMSU games. She went 3-for-4 at the plate in the first game and 4-for-4 with the game-winning RBI in the second game.
Meghan Dyer tossed an 11-strikeout perfect game to lift Utah to an 8-0, six-inning win over host UTEP. The Utes pounded out 10 hits and scored six runs in the sixth. Diana Phillips' 2-for-3, two-run effort led Utah's offense.
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 - 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. 6 Alabama). Utah also has a pick-up game with Fullerton, currently receiving votes. The first home dates are just around the corner as Utah hosts the Utah Invitational on March 24-26.
*(source: ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25).