Sarah Lyman and the Utah softball team have a five-game road swing through California this weekend.
March 15, 2005
The Lineup: After a weekend off, the University of Utah softball team (8-12 overall) jumps into a five-game schedule next week. Utah will play a pickup game against Iowa in Stockton, Calif., on Thursday, March 17. A day off and the Utes return to the diamond to play Princeton and No. 3 Stanford in a four-game tournament in Palo Alto, Calif., from March 19-20.
Quoting Head Coach Mona Stevens:
On Iowa and the Stanford Tournament: "If we play well, we can beat anyone. We just need to click over from the mindset of hanging with our opponents to beating our opponents. And, I think we're almost there.
"We have a single game against Iowa and that's a good game to get us back out on the diamond and going again.
"We played at Stanford in the NCAA Tournament last year and lost a 1-0 ballgame to it. We played well, only letting it score on a bloop single. Overall, I think we were successful there and we are looking forward to going back and recapturing that feeling again."
On taking the weekend off: "The most important thing about last week was that we had two pitchers that really needed a rest. Plus, it gave our hitters time to feel confident and relaxed at the plate and I think we're starting to make the turn there.
"After five weekends in a row of traveling, I think we were a little burnt out. We needed time to step back from each and the game. Now that we're rested and on spring break, we can return to the field and feel free to perform. I think we are in good spirits after that little break and now we're ready to get back at it."
Scouting This Week's Opponents: Iowa is in the middle of the 13-game road swing through California. It has won nine of its last 10 and is currently 19-4 on the season and receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. Emily Nichols' .407 average and nine home runs is tops on the team while Lisa Birocci's 0.91 earned-run average leads all Hawkeye pitchers.
Princeton brings a 9-3 mark into the Stanford Tournament and has won in five straight outings. Five Tigers are batting better than .300, led by Erin Snyder and Melissa Finley's .361 average. Kristen Schaus' 0.82 earned-run average leads the Tiger pitchers.
The No. 3-ranked and tournament host Stanford owns an impressive 18-2 mark for the season. The Cardinal recently saw their 14-game winning steak snapped but have won in two of its last three. Leah Nelson and Lauren Lappin lead the Cardinal at the plate, hitting .436 and .414, respectively. Lauren Nydam's 1.27 earned-run average leads all Stanford pitchers.
Canceled: The Utes originally had their home opener scheduled with Southern Utah on March 15, but that game was cancelled do to travelling conflicts.
Crazy Eights: Devina Quintero has tallied a hit in eight straight games, dating back to the 2-1 win over Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 26. That eight-game hitting streak includes a 6-for-14 showing and a home run in the five games last weekend. The home run was the first of the season for Quintero.
Three Times the Fun: Diana Phillips hit her first career triple during the second McNeese State game at the Texas A&M Tournament. It proved to be a pivotal one as the triple plated Utah's game-winning RBI. It was the first triple by a Ute this season as well.
Back in the Groove: Kate Nygaard broke out of a six-game hitless streak with two hits in the last three games. She was 0-for-19 until going 2-for-8 with four RBI and a run scored in the team's last three games. Her last at bat for the weekend was a two-run home run, her first round-tripper for the season.
On the Offense: Devina Quintero hit a team-best .429 last weekend. She went 6-for-14 with a double, home run, RBI and run scored in the five games at the Texas A&M Tournament. Her effort at the plate last weekend boosted her average from .306 to .340 and is now the top hitter on the squad. Bryanne Durrence is the only other Ute hitting .300 for the season. She is averaging .302 thus far.
Slumpin': The Utes hit well below their average in action last week. The team hit .183 in the five games, almost 100 points lower than its .247 average. Only four players hit better than .200 while six players hit below .155 for the weekend.
Tossin' Some Gems: Brianna Gourdin had a solid showing in the circle last weekend. She struck out 17 and had only seven walks in four appearances. Her numbers were buoyed by an eight-strikeout, three-walk performance in the 6-1 win over McNeese State. The eight strike outs were the most by Gourdin since the first two weekends of play. She fanned 10 versus Southern Utah (Feb. 4) and nine against Wichita State (Feb. 12).
Youth Movement: Sophomore Devina Quintero and freshman Diana Phillips lead the team with 17 hits each. They are also among the team leaders in batting average. Quintero leads the Utes with a .340 average while Phillips is third with a .283 batting average. Both are also the team leaders with four doubles apiece.
Hit and Runs: Ivette Hernandez only tallied one hit last weekend but she is still Utah's top home run producer. She has six of the team's 12 home runs this season ... Hernandez is second in the league in RBI (17) and tied for the league lead in home runs (six) ... Utah has tallied at least one error in the last 10 games ... Kate Nygaard has five RBI for the season, four of which came last weekend. She had two in the second game against McNeese State and two against Miami. Those were the first multi-RBI games for Nygaard this year ... The 41st president of the United States, George Bush Sr., watched the beginning of the Utah vs. Texas A&M game on Saturday. The Aggies went on to win 9-1 in five innings ... Jackie Wong is hitting a swift .524 when she leads off an inning ... the Utes have scored 40 of their 69 runs (58 percent) this season after the fifth inning ... Utah is undefeated this season when scoring six or more runs. However, it has lost 12 of the 15 games in which it has plated five or fewer runs.
At the Helm: Mona Stevens is in her ninth season as Utah's softball head coach. Stevens is 268-222-1 all-time and owns a 100-72-1 record in conference play. She has led her squad to four NCAA regional appearances and has coached three All-Americans. Stevens has also coached 12 all-West Region players including Glennis Donnelly and Melissa Stahnke in 2004. Her teams have won one MWC regular season title and three MWC tournament titles, including the 2004 tournament championship.
On Deck: Utah will play five straight home games, starting with its home opener on Friday, March 25. The Utes host UVSC in that game with first pitch at Ute Field scheduled for 3 p.m. The Utes return to the diamond to host Utah State the following week (Wed., March 30) with Mountain West Conference play beginning on that Friday, April 2. Utah hosts Brigham Young in a doubleheader at noon.