Sharee Fonoti and the Utah softball team has doubleheaders at CSU and New Mexico this weekend.
April 26, 2005
The Lineup: The end of the season comes fast and furious as the University of Utah softball team (17-24 overall, 5-9 Mountain West) will play 10 games over the next 11 days. Up this week are two conference road trips. First on the docket is Colorado State (Friday, April 29) followed by New Mexico (Sunday, May 1). The doubleheader against CSU begins at 1 p.m., while the twinbill at New Mexico is slated to start at noon.
Quoting Head Coach Mona Stevens:
On playing CSU and UNM: "I really feel comfortable going into the weekend and I think the team feels the same way too. We continue to be solid on defense and we have started to hit the ball a lot better over the last couple of weeks.
"Our pitching has shown improvement too with Lindsie Nielsen and Brianna Gourdin throwing a lot better recently. They have not been as tense out there and I think they have been able to relax and enjoy being in the game."
On who has been performing: "Bryanne Durrence is getting on base all the time. She has really been making it happen lately and is doing a great job for us. Lindsie Nielsen has been a steady pitcher for us the past few weeks and I think Brianna Gourdin is also starting to throw better.
"But, Sharee Fonoti has been rock solid for us on defense. Whenever we get into a tough spot, we want to give it to Sharee with no hesitation. She has been someone we can count on and we feel confident in giving her the ball."
Scouting This Week's Opponents:
Colorado State: The Rams are third in the league at 8-4 and boast a 29-16 overall mark. CSU has won four straight, including 10-4 and 5-2 wins over the Utes two weeks ago. Jesse Strickland does it all for the Rams. She's the team's leading hitter (.386) and is also the conference's and nation's leader in doubles (19). In the circle, Strickland owns a 1.89 earned-run average and is 11-7 with five shutouts to her credit.
New Mexico: The Lobos are sporting a 13-26 overall mark and a 3-9 tally in conference play. They are currently two games behind the Utes in fifth in the MWC standings. UNM has lost eight straight games, including back-to-back outings to the Utes two weeks ago, 1-0 and 3-0. Kristina Schmallen leads the team in hitting. She's batting .337 for the season but sees her average bump up to .382 in league play. Katie Gregg is 6-4 in the circle and owns a team-best 2.83 earned-run average.
Talkin' About Streaks: With a hit in the night cap against San Diego State, Jackie Wong extended her hitting streak to five games. That is the longest hitting streak of her career. She had two four-gamers, one in 2004 and one in 2003. On the other hand, SDSU held Bryanne Durrence hitless in the same game and ended her hitting streak at five games. Durrence's five-gamer ties her career long. She also had a five-game streak in 2004.
Upping the Average: Bryanne Durrence hit a team-best .364 last weekend. She was 4-for-11 at the plate and scored two runs for the Utes. Her offensive effort last week pushed her season average up to a team-high .303 (tied with Diana Phillips). A .246 hitter, Durrence is currently hitting 57 points better than her career average.
Hit Miser: In five of the last eight appearances, Brianna Gourdin has held her opponents to three or fewer hits. Most recently, the right-hander held San Diego State to three hits in a shutout victory on Sunday.
Bringing the "A" Game: After a 6-0 loss to Stanford on March 20, Lindsie Nielsen's earned-run average swelled to 5.28. Since then, Nielsen has made 11 appearances (nine starts), pitched 69.1 innings and allowed a scant 14 earned runs (1.41 ERA). As a result of her effort over the last month, her ERA has improved by more than two runs to 3.14.
Coming Up Big: Lynsey Wall came up big in game one against SDSU. Down 1-0 in the seventh, she hit a walk-off, two-run home run to lift the Utes to a conference win. It was her fifth home run on the season. She is second on the team in home runs while Ivette Hernandez leads the way with a team-best seven round-trippers.
Hit and Runs: Utah has had only three extra-base hits in its last six games (148 at bats). The Utes had two doubles against New Mexico (April 17) and a home run against San Diego State (April 23) ... Utah is 5-2 when it has 10 or more hits in a game ... all three of Brianna Gourdin's shutouts this season were conference wins ... Bryanne Durrence is hitting an impressive .345 (10-for-29) with runners in scoring position ... the team's batting average drops 11 points to .231 when the bases are empty ... Diana Phillips is fourth in hits (16) and Lindsie Nielsen is fourth in strikeouts (29) in MWC games only ... Utah has played three of the top 10 teams in the USA Today/NFCA top 10. The Utes have squared off against No. 1 Michigan, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 7 Stanford. Those same three teams are in the top five in ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
At the Helm: Mona Stevens is in her ninth season as Utah's softball head coach. Stevens is 277-234-1 all-time and owns a 105-81-1 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: Regular season play concludes with three doubleheaders. First, the Utes complete Mountain West action with a doubleheader at BYU on Wednesday, May 4. Utah returns home to host a pair of nonconference twinbills. First up is UVSC on Friday, May 6. The regular season ends on Saturday, May 7, when Florida State comes to town. Mountain West Conference Tournament play begins on Thursday, May 12, at San Diego State.