Utah started practicing in preparation for its 2014 campaign last week.
Jan. 21, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY - The University of Utah softball team recently opened practice for its 2014 season in Eccles Fieldhouse.
"This is a fun team to have at practice," Utah Head Coach Amy Hogue said. "They respond well to coaching and they're fighting for positions and they're challenging each other. There's never a lack of effort. They've been fantastic.
"It's fun to coach a team that depends on you as a coach to give them enough challenging stuff because they've been up for every challenge that I've given them. They've done really well. Just because we have a lot of new faces doesn't mean that we have a ton of work to do. We really have kids who came in more prepared than we've ever had."
The Ute lineup will feature six returning starters, but a corps of seven newcomers will be counted on to fill voids at shortstop, second base and first base.
"They're the most talented group I've ever brought in," Hogue said. "The timing of that really worked out well because we're replacing our middle and first baseman, some critical spots for sure."
"At least half of our newcomers will be starting so we don't want to have them act like they're new anymore," Hogue said. "They came in August so no one is new anymore."
"There are really three spots on the field that we graduated," Hogue said. "We're running practices to really challenge those middles and that first baseman, defensively, to see who can handle those spots on the field. That's what we're going to spend most of our time trying to figure out."
With three new defenders finding their way in the Ute infield, Utah's offense will take on an even more important role in 2014.
"Our job as an offense is to score a lot of runs so we're obviously going to do our best to put our best defensive lineup out there in the middle, but besides that, we may make some changes in the outfield or at first base to make sure we're still scoring the amount of runs we'll need," Hogue said.
The Utes open their 2014 campaign Fri.-Sun., Feb. 7-9 at Arizona State's Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
"It will be fun to see who our 'gamers' are. That's the part that's always the question mark."