Texie Criddle and the Ute softball team have five games on tap this week.
April 19, 2005
The Lineup: The University of Utah softball team (15-22 overall, 3-7 Mountain West Conference) has five games on the slate this week. It launches action with the only road trip on the docket, a single game at Utah State on Wednesday, April 20, at 3 p.m. The Utes return to conference action and begin the second round of loop play with a pair of home doubleheaders on the weekend. They host UNLV on Friday, April 22, at 1:30 p.m., and San Diego State on Saturday, April 23, at noon.
Quoting Head Coach Mona Stevens:
"We looked confident and relaxed on Sunday and I think we were right there with Colorado State on Saturday.
"I thought both of our pitchers threw well on Sunday and we showed more confidence at the plate too. If we can continue to throw and bat with that same confidence, I feel good about our chances this week. But, it all begins with our two pitchers and if they show up this weekend, I think we'll be fine.
"I'd also like to see a good crowd out there supporting us this weekend. Our teams have always responded well to good crowds. We need to stay in the middle of the pack (in the Mountain West Conference) and with a lot of fans out there cheering for us, that will go a long way in helping us reach our goal."
Scouting This Week's Opponent:
Utah State: The Aggies and Utes tangle for the second time in a week when these two rivals meet on Wednesday. Utah State bested Utah in Salt Lake City on April 13, 6-1. USU is 14-24 on the season. It beat Cal-Riverside in its last outing on Sunday and has won in four of its last five. Quela Leonhardt leads the team in hitting (.305) and in RBI (18). In the circle, Leslie Higley owns a team-best 3.26 earned-run average and is 9-10 overall.
UNLV: The Rebels bring a 32-15 mark to town and are second in the league with an 8-2 tally. UNLV swept the Utes when the rivals met back on April 10, 10-0 and 4-3. The Rebels have won three straight and in six of their last seven. Marissa Nichols leads the team in hitting (.439) but Brittany Meade has hit a team-best .391 in conference play. Jacque Kerrigan is the top hurler on the squad, boasting a 21-13 mark and a 1.70 earned-run average. Her earned-run average improves to 1.29 in MWC play.
San Diego State: The Aztecs were the preseason favorites in the coaches poll but are currently laboring in last place at 1-9 in the MWC. Their overall mark stands at 23-21 after losing in 10 of their last 11. The two teams split a doubleheader in San Diego on April 9, 5-0 and 0-1. Allison Smith leads the team in hitting .316 on the season and is third in RBI (12). In the circle, Celena Velasquez is one of two pitchers with a sub-2.00 ERA. Velasquez owns a 1.09 earned-run average.
Two of a Kind: Brianna Gourdin tossed a two-hitter in game two of the New Mexico doubleheader last weekend. That is the fewest hits Gourdin has allowed in a complete game this season. It is the third time in her career that she has held her rivals to two or fewer hits. She also had a two-hitter against North Texas (March 14, 2004) and a one-hitter against San Diego State in the MWC Tournament (May 15, 2004).
Lining `Em Up, Mowing `Em Down: Lindsie Nielsen has appeared in the circle in 21 games for the Utes this year. In the first 10 games, Nielsen was averaging 2.9 strikeouts per game. In her last 11 outings, her average has nearly doubled to 4.8 K's per game. Moreover, the Sandy native has allowed only eight earned runs in her last 48.1 innings of work for a 1.16 earned-run average.
Can't Have a Beginning Without an Ending: Diana Phillips saw her hitting streak come to an end in game one of the New Mexico doubleheader on Sunday. Phillips had a hit in nine straight games, tying the longest hitting streak by a Ute this season. She did tally a hit in game two against UNM and has a hit in 10 of the last 11 games. Devina Quintero also had a nine-game hitting streak this season (from Feb. 26-March 17). Currently, Bryanne Durrence is the only Ute with a multi-game hitting streak, with hits in the last two games.
Steppin' Up in Conference Play: While Devina Quintero's season batting average is the only one that breaks the .300 plateau, the Utes have three batters hitting better than .300 in conference games only. Diana Phillips hits a team-best .400 against conference rivals. Trailing her are Ivette Hernandez (.333) and Quintero (.321).
The Beginning of an "ERA:" After the 6-0 loss to Stanford on March 20, Lindsie Nielsen's earned-run average swelled to an incredible 5.28. But, since that outing, Nielsen has only allowed eight earned runs in 48.1 innings thrown (for a 1.16 ERA). That has allowed her ERA to improve by two runs-per game to 3.28.
Swing Away: Kate Nygaard hit .412 (7-for-17 with one home run) last week, boosting her season average to .234. She had seven hits in the six games last week. However, six hits came during the conference doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. Among those hits, a solo home run against Colorado State - her second of the season. Those were also the first hits of the conference season for Nygaard.
Hit and Runs: After surrendering 29 hits in the Colorado State doubleheader, Utah held New Mexico to only six hits over the twinbill ... the Utes have tossed 14 straight innings of shutout ball ... Lindsie Nielsen has had shutouts in two of her last three starts ... Ivette Hernandez had her second three-RBI of the season against New Mexico last weekend. She leads the team with six multi-RBI games ... Utah has four triples on the year, three of which were banged out by freshmen (Diana Phillips (2) and Kelly Matthews (1)). Briana Gourdin hit the fourth triple ... Ivette Hernandez' 13 putouts against Colorado State (April 16) was a team high this season.
At the Helm: Mona Stevens is in her ninth season as Utah's softball head coach. Stevens is 275-232-1 all-time and owns a 103-79-1 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 embarks on a six-game conference road swing. First up next weekend are road dates at Colorado State (April 29) and New Mexico (May 1). The Utes return to the state to wrap up conference play at BYU on May 4.