Softball: Utah to aim for consistency, team communication

By Connor Wallace

Daily Utah Chronicle, U. Utah via UWIRE

Shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina in a game on April 5, 2012, against UCLA. Hoopiiaina and the Utes have six non-conference losses — which matches their total for all of last year. File Photo Madeline Smith / The Daily Utah Chronicle

Shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina in a game on April 5, 2012, against UCLA. Hoopiiaina and the Utes have six non-conference losses — which matches their total for all of last year.
File Photo Madeline Smith / The Daily Utah Chronicle

The start of the season hasn’t been as successful as Utah would have hoped.

The Utes already have six non-conference losses — which matches their total for all of last year — and has been inconsistent in both weekend tournaments.

But there is reason to be optimistic.

Utah put up a season-high 19 hits against UNLV in the Easton Desert Classic. In the previous game, the Utes only allowed Long Beach State five hits and one run — both season bests for Utah. The explanation for Sunday’s performance might come down to a meeting set up by the players to refocus and turn around the season, said head coach Amy Hogue. The momentum from those games might come into play this upcoming weekend.

Today Utah will travel to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Classic where its first opponent will be former conference foe Colorado State. On Saturday, the team will play a doubleheader against Long Island University Brooklyn and Nevada. Finally, the Utes will finish the weekend in another doubleheader versus Ohio State and Cal Poly.

Because of Utah’s inconsistency, the motto “plug into each other” was adopted for this week. Each player will write down what she needs to do and what she is going to bring to the rest of the team. The player then will give those promises to another player in order to hold each other accountable.

“We’ve shown that we’ve been inconsistent,” Hogue said. “We are going to do a better job of plugging into each other and making sure everybody understands their role and is supported in their role really well to see if we can gain some consistency this weekend.”

There haven’t been problems on the physical side, Hogue said.

“What we’ve been inconsistent in is our effort and our attitude and our support of each other,” she said. “Those are all controllable things.”

Hogue seems to be right on target. The teams Utah has lost to are far from national powerhouses — only one team Utah has lost to has a winning record. In the majority of the losses the simple answer is the Utes have not been able to produce runs early, which puts pressure on pitching and defense.

Utah will need runs -and lots of them- in order to have a successful weekend. This year’s team is built to score, and without runs, the team struggles. Utah has only one loss when the team has scored five or more runs. However, the Utes only have one win when they scored less than five runs. Shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina thinks the reason for the lack of run production comes down to a simple factor.

“I think that our biggest problem is that we are passive right now,” Hoopiiaina said. “We’ve got to be aggressive and go after strikes … If we are aggressive I think we’ll be way more successful this weekend.”

The start of the season was not what the Utes were expecting. However, Utah seems to have turned the corner and found a new passion that wasn’t there before.

“I’m excited about playing CSU and Nevada again because we’ve lost to both of the teams, and I’m looking for redemption,” Hoopiiaina said.

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