Senior Niki Hayhurst leads Utah into the 2003 MWC Tournament this weekend.
May 6, 2003
At The Plate
The Utes travel to San Diego, Calif., to compete in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The tourney begins on Thursday, May 8 and continues through Saturday, May 10. No. 4 Utah will face No. 5 New Mexico in game two beginning at 11:30 a.m. The winner will advance to play No. 1 San Diego State at 4:30 that same day. The loser will play Friday at 11:30 a.m. against the loser of game three on the other side of the bracket. Please refer to the bracket link for further information.
Members of the all-conference teams, along with player, pitcher and coach of the year, will be announced at a banquet beginning at 6:00 p.m (PT), Wednesday, May 7.
Recapping The Last Outings
Utah finished the weekend with a 2-1 record at Ute Field. The Utes defeated UC Riverside, 4-1, on Friday, May 2. The three Ute Seniors came up big for Utah on senior day. Jen Pursell tossed a two-hitter, while fanning seven Highlanders. Traci Keller scored the Utes' first two runs after reaching base on a double and a single. Niki Hayhurst homered in the contest and made several superb defensive plays.
Next, Utah got a series split with arch-rival Brigham Young. Utah outhit BYU, 7-3, in the first bout, but failed to convert on the hits. One of the hits Pursell gave up was a home run, which proved to be the difference in the 1-0 loss. Utah rolled past the Cougars in the second game, 7-2. Hayhurst homered again and Heather Bowlin picked up the victory for Utah.
"I feel like we're playing a lot better over the past weekend and a half. We need to keep on rolling and keep our confidence up."
"The tournament is up for grabs. Anybody could get hot and grab the wins. Whoever shows up to play and brings their best game will win this tourney."
Live Stats Available
The Mountain West Conference will provide live stats during the tournament. Click on the following link:
Scouting The Lobos
New Mexico finished fifth in the conference standings with a 7-13 record, 24-35 overall. The Utes took 3-of-4 games from the Lobos this year and have a series lead of 56-24 all-time.
Led by Niki Hayhurst's .636 average, Utah boasted a .310 team batting average against the Lobos. Five Utes hit over .400 against New Mexico this season, including three over .500. The flip-side to that is the remaining four starters all hit below .150. Meanwhile, the Ute hurlers compiled a 4.25 ERA, while yielding a .289 opponent average.
Scouting The Aztecs
Utah dropped both games against SDSU in San Diego, Calif. The two didn't face off in Utah because of inclement weather. Celena Valasquez and Bre DeSanta pilot the league's best pitching staff. Utah leads the series 35-18.
Scouting The Cougars
The in-state rivals split their four games at two apiece. Utah outhit BYU .298 to .227, but the Cougs outpitched the Utes 2.85 to 3.11. Oli Keohohou guides the Cougar offense with 19 homers and 45 RBI. The Utes lead the series 9-7.
Scouting The Rams
Colorado State swept the Utes this season, taking two in Colorado Springs, Colo., and two in Salt Lake City. Utah's pitchers struggled against the Rams offense, yielding 34 runs, while compiling a 9.15 ERA. The Utes were outhit .278 to .400. Utah has a series lead of 47-25
Scouting The Rebels
Utah snatched both games in Las Vegas, Nev. The two didn't play in Utah this season because of a snow storm. The Ute offense fared best in league play against the Rebel pitchers, compiling a .394 team batting average. Utah's pitchers shutdown UNLV, composing a 0.54 ERA. Utah holds a 30-16 series lead.
It has been a tough season for the Utes, weather wise. Utah has lost 14 games because of inclement weather.
Where They Rank In League Play
Utah finished second with a .293 batting average during league games. The Utes led the league with 20 doubles. The pitching staff was last with a 4.72 ERA.
Niki Hayhurst ranks third in league games with a .409 average. The senior is second with a .559 on base percentage and 12 walks. Lynsey Wall has knocked in 18 runs, which is second-best in the league. Glennis Donnelly is third with 41 total bases. Jackie Wong leads the league with six stolen bases, followed by Bryanne Durrence with four swipes. Jen Pursell had a league-high 20 strikeouts against batters looking.
Batting Avg. Niki Hayhurst (.368) Wins Jen Pursell (12) Runs Glennis Donnelly (28) Strikeouts Jen Pursell (113) Home Runs Niki Hayhurst (8) Opp. B/A Jen Pursell (.214) RBI Melissa Stahnke (29) Doubles Niki Hayhurst (11)
A Tale Of Two Halves
In their first 23 games this year, the Utes recorded an 8-15 record. The team batting average was .219 and the team ERA was 1.95. Utah connected for seven home runs and knocked in 63 RBI. In its last 22 games, Utah has compiled a .305 team batting average and a team ERA of 3.71 while going 12-10. The Utes have blasted 20 home runs and drove in 106 runs.
Senior Niki Hayhurst appears to be closing her career out as one of Utah's best hitters. As of May 6, the Keizer, Ore., native ranks first all-time with 106 walks, fourth with 140 RBI and 40 doubles and fifth in home runs with 32. More impressively, Hayhurst will finish somewhere in the top five for career batting average.
The senior has guided the Utes' offense all season. She has a team-high .368 average, 11 doubles, .648 slugging percentage and .497 on base percentage. Hayhurst has as many strikeouts as she does home runs (8) this year. That's only eight whiffs in 125 at bats, making her one of the toughest batters to strike out
Don (nelly) Of A New Day
Junior Glennis Donnelly has been one of Utah's best newcomers and players this season. The St. Louis, Mo., native earned Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors on April 29, after going 10-of-15 (.667) at the plate the weekend before. The effort produced four home runs, a double, seven RBI and eight runs. Donnelly ranks third on the team with a .294 overall batting average and second with a .400 league average.
Four of Utah's freshmen have contributed greatly this season.
Ivette Hernandez is second on the team with a .333 batting average, a .490 slugging percentage and a .439 on base percentage. She tied the Utah single-game record with three doubles against UNLV.
Lynsey Wall has been named MWC Player of the Week twice. She's batting .260 and is second on the team with 28 RBI and six home runs.
Jackie Wong notched a .400 batting average over the past three games. She's hitting .257 on the year and leads the league with six stolen bases in conference games.
Brianna Gourdin has produced a 3-1 record in 11 appearances this season.
Head Coach Mona Stevens is in her seventh season at the helm of the Utah softball program. Stevens, a well-known coach at the collegiate, national and international levels, has a 237-175-1 overall college record. The Provo, Utah, native is currently serving as President of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. In her spare time, Stevens enjoys performing with her band, the Sister Wives.