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Go Utes!
Utah Softball Preview II: Pitchers and Catchers

Junior Naomi and the Utes start their 2013 season at the Red Desert Classic this weekend in St. George, Utah.

Junior Naomi and the Utes start their 2013 season at the Red Desert Classic this weekend in St. George, Utah.

Feb. 6, 2013

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With the first pitch of the 2013 Utah softball campaign two days away, utahutes.com will prepare fans for the Utes' second Pac-12 Conference season with a breakdown of the roster as well as a look at the upcoming schedule. This is the second in a three-part series about the student-athletes Utah has at each position heading into the season as well as the competition they will face.

2013 Utah Softball Preview
Tuesday, Feb. 5: Infield and Outfield
Wednesday, Feb. 6: Pitchers and Catchers
Thursday, Feb. 7: Utility Players and Schedule

Pitchers

For the second straight season, the Utes will feature three capable pitchers who will provide Hogue with plenty of options in the circle.

"Having three capable pitchers is a luxury," Hogue said. "What we learned last season in the Pac-12 is that until you have someone who's throwing 70 miles per hour with a good change-up to compliment it, you really need to use a combination of pitchers to win ball games. We're going to have to use a combination of two, or even three pitchers. Coming out of the fall, sophomore Mariah Ramirez has been our top performer."

Ramirez enters her second campaign with the Utes with more poise and confidence.

"Mariah is the whole package," Hogue said. "She is our most stable pitcher with the confidence and experience to throw a bunch of innings for us."

Utah's hardest thrower, junior 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.

Freshman Kayce Nieto has all of the tools to succeed at this level and has a lot of spin on her deliveries to the plate.

"(Amu) will get her fair share of starts as well," Hogue said. "When she is on, she is likely our toughest pitcher to beat. Early on this season, we'll learn what role Kayce can play. I expect Mariah and Naomi will start the season as our leaders and we'll figure out how to mix Kayce in. They each have different styles, which is why a combination of all of them is going to be our best way to win games."

Catchers

A trio of capable athletes will compete for the starting bid behind the plate as lone returning catcher Shay Shaum is joined by freshman Shelby Pacheco and Shelbi Everett.

Shaum started 39 games behind the plate during her first season with the Utes in 2012.

Pacheco begins her first season with Utah after an accomplished prep career at Union High School in Casa Granda, Ariz.

Everett has proven herself to be a reliable option in clutch situations as she was named to the All-Eugene Region Team at the NCAA Tournament with BYU last season.

"There's a battle going on between Shaum, Pacheco and Everett behind the plate," Hogue said. "All three of them are extremely talented. All three could be starters, which means there may be times where all three of them will get a shot back there. I don't think we're going to stick with just one in the preseason for very long at one time. They're all going to get a shot to earn that spot."

Player Notes:

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

Allowed only two earned runs in 5.0 innings of relief to pick up win over No. 23 Oregon State (4/28/12) ... threw career-best 5.2 innings at No. 13/13 Arizona (4/10/12) ... spots the ball very well and mixes speeds to keep hitters off balance ... a competitor who fields her position exceptionally.

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

Started seven games in the circle for the Utes in 2012 ... best outing last season was a 6.2-inning effort against UC Santa Barbara (2/11/12) ... hit a grand slam against North Dakota (3/4/12) ... dropball reaches 66 to 68 miles per hour ... offensively, she brings incredible power to the plate.

Kayce Nieto
Fr. • R/R • 5-4 • Farmington Hills, Mich. • Mercy H.S.

Has all of the tools to succeed at the next level ... her fundamentals are right on ... will be able to learn and grow so much as a pitcher because of the solid base she has built ... can swing the bat well, too.

Shay Shaum
Sr. • R/R • 5-4 • Ogden, Utah • Salt Lake Community College

Started 39 games behind the plate for the Utes in 2012 ... has all things necessary to succeed at this level ... tough, gutty and assertive ... continues to learn and improve each week.

Shelby Pacheco
Fr. • R/R • 5-6 • Casa Granda, Ariz. • Union H.S.

Has a lively arm and can throw anyone out in the country ... very vocal behind the plate and brings a sense of fun to the game ... enthusiastic to learn more.

Shelbi Everett
So. • R/R • 5-7 • Cottonwood Heights, Utah • Brighton H.S.

Can play anywhere on the field ... a fast player who will steal bases ... has an extremely lively arm ... phenomenal power at the plate ... first swing as a Ute this fall was a home run ... a fun, loose player.

 

 

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