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2012 Utah Softball Preview: Pitchers

Generra Nielson struck out 198 batters last season.

Generra Nielson struck out 198 batters last season.

Feb. 2, 2012

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With the first pitch of the 2012 Utah softball campaign eight days away, utahutes.com preps fans for the inaugural Pac-12 Conference season with a breakdown of the Ute roster as well as a look at the upcoming schedule. This is the fourth in a five-part series about the student-athletes Utah has at each position heading into the season as well as the competition they will face.

Monday, Jan. 30: Infield
Tuesday, Jan. 31: Outfield
Wednesday, Feb. 1: Catchers
Thursday, Feb. 2: Pitchers
Friday, Feb. 3: Utilities/Designated Players/Schedule

Utes Will Have Two Established Starters in the Circle

The Utes welcome back two established starters on the mound and have a newcomer entering the fold with plenty of experience against high-caliber competition.

The undisputed ace of the staff is senior Generra Nielson, who finished second in the MWC with 198 strikeouts during her first season at Utah. Nielson finished the year listed in the top 10 of the MWC's overall statistics in four other categories. She tied for second place with 21 victories (against 12 losses), was third with 180.1 innings pitched, and sixth in both ERA (3.77) and opponent batting average (.261).

"[Nielson] is throwing as well as I've ever seen her," Hogue said. "She wants the ball every day, but we'll balance her time and do our best to keep her as sharp as she was this fall."

Sophomore Naomi Amu posted a team-low 2.97 ERA in 36 appearances last season as she compiled an 8-9 record in 120.1 innings.



"[Amu] returns as our best pitcher as far as ERA goes from last season," Hogue said. "She was hitting 66 to 68 [miles per hour] on the gun this fall so she is still throwing hard. `Boogie' has the skill set to beat any team in the country and we saw that last year against Arizona State and some other great schools. When she's on, she can beat anyone in the country."

Incoming freshman Maya Ramirez joins the Utah program after an accomplished prep career at Kennedy High School in Buena Park, Calif., as well as with the SoCal Athletics travel team.

"[Ramirez] came in ready to be a Division I starter and she'll get her chances," Hogue said. "Fundamentally, she's as sound as anyone out there and that's why she's done so well. Defensively, she fields her position better than any pitcher I've ever coached."

Having three capable starting pitchers will provide Hogue with plenty of options in the circle throughout the season.

"We have three starting pitchers," Hogue said. "That depth is going to help a lot because even though [Nielson] and [Amu] are talented enough to be the only two that we need, we'll have [Ramirez] to lighten the load."

Player Notes:

Generra Nielson
Sr. • R/R • 5-6 • Blanding, Utah • College of Southern Idaho

Unquestioned ace of pitching staff ... wants the ball every day ... is throwing as well as ever after adding to repertoire during offseason ... second year at Utah after an impressive career at the College of Southern Idaho, where she set three school records and was an All-American in 2010.

Naomi Amu
So. • R/R • 5-9 • Oceanside, Calif. • El Camino H.S.

Returns to Utah pitching staff with team's lowest ERA from last season ... dropball reaches 66 to 68 miles per hour ... entering only her second season as full-time pitcher ... offensively, she brings incredible power to the plate.

Maya Ramirez
Fr. • R/R • 5-6 • Hawaiian Gardens, Calif. • John F. Kennedy H.S.

Ready to be an NCAA Division I starter as a freshman ... spots the ball very well and mixes speeds to keep hitters off balance ... a competitor who fields her position exceptionally.

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