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2012 Utah Softball Preview: Utilities/Designated Players/Schedule

Senior Joni Cook and the Utes enter their inaugural Pac-12 Conference season in 2012.

Senior Joni Cook and the Utes enter their inaugural Pac-12 Conference season in 2012.

Feb. 3, 2012

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With the first pitch of the 2012 Utah softball campaign seven 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 fifth 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 face rigorous schedule in first Pac-12 campaign

Entering her senior season, Joni Cook ended the fall season as Utah's primary option as the designated player. Cook is a career .284 hitter with a .324 on-base percentage and 18 RBI. The Eagle, Idaho native was a 2010 All-MWC selection as a DP as she hit .457 in league play to rank third among MWC batters. She also tied for fifth with four doubles and was eighth with a .472 on-base percentage against conference competition that season.

Cook was heating up at the plate during the fall exhibition season.

"[Cook] was our hottest hitter this fall and arguably the most consistent," Hogue said. "I expect her to bat in the three, four, or five spots for us to start the season. She's already proven to us her ability to hit the ball gap-to-gap against the top throwers."

Newcomer Kendal Bergman will also have an opportunity to swing a bat this spring, primarily as a pinch hitter.



Player Notes

Joni Cook
Sr. • 5-8 • Eagle, Idaho • Eagle H.S.

Utah's most consistent hitter during fall practice ... emerged as one of Utah's top offensive threats during 2010 conference season ... enters 2012 as starting designated player and is expected to hit in the 3-5 positions ... 2010 All-Mountain West Conference selection.

Kendal Bergman
Fr. • R/R • 5-8 • Wheat Ridge, Colo. • D'Evelyn H.S.

Walk-on from Colorado ... outfielder who will have opportunities to pinch hit ... extremely powerful hitter.

The Schedule

A schedule that includes 27 games against 12 opponents who qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season awaits Utah in its first Pac-12 season.

"We look forward to everything about our challenging schedule," Hogue said. "We want to play the best teams and the Pac-12 is arguably the best conference in the country. We want to see how high of a level we can compete. We plan to keep the focus on us and improving as a team, just like we've always done."

The Utes begin their 2012 season in Tempe, Ariz., at the Kajikawa Classic, Feb. 10-12, then host their first home game on Mar. 7, a Deseret First Duel tilt against BYU.

Utah's league slate in its inaugural Pac-12 slate features 21 games against six different opponents ranked in the top 25 of the last NFCA Coaches Poll last season. The Utes begin league play by traveling to Seattle to face Washington on Mar. 23-25.

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