Feb. 11, 1998
THIS WEEK: Utah, ranked No. 18 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Preseason Poll, opens its 1998 season playing Friday through Sunday at the Arizona State CocaCola Classic at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Cae Creek, Ariz.
TOURNAMENT FIELD: The Arizona State CocaCola Classic field includes 18 teams: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Detroit Mercy, Florida State, Fresno State, Long Beach State, Massachusetts, Ohio State, Oregon, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas, UNLV, Utah State and Washington. The teams will play five predetermined games.
UTAH'S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Fri., Feb. 13 vs. Ohio State 1:00 p.m vs. Tennessee (#25) 3:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 14 vs. DetroitMercy 9:00 a.m. vs. Alabama 1:00 p.m. Sun., Feb. 15 vs. Cal State Fullerton 12:00 p.m.
MEDIA INFORMATION: Will Phillips is the softball media contact for the Arizona State sports information office. Phone: (602) 9656592. Fax: (602) 9673816. Line scores from all of the games will be available on ASUs FaxonDemand system at (503) 6144044, category 112051.
TRAVEL ITINERARY: Flight Plans Depart Salt Lake City on Feb. 12 at 11:30 a.m. (Delta #1639) and arrive in Phoenix at 1:01 p.m. Return from Phoenix on Feb. 15, departing at 7:10 p.m. (Delta #1440) and arrive in Salt Lake City at 8:43 p.m. Accommodations: Quality Hotel (602) 2480222.
NEXT WEEK: Utah plays in the UNLV Softball Classic, Friday through Sunday (Feb. 2022), at Freedom Park in Las Vegas, Nev. 1998
OUTLOOK: To say that the Utah softball team is undergoing a metamorphosis in 1998 would be an understatement. Gone from last years team are eight seniors and 11 letterwinners. The seniors, in particular, played a large role in the Utes going 4418 overall, placing third in the Western Athletic Conference, finishing the regular season ranked 14th in the nation and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Yet, while unfamiliar names may appear up and down this years roster, the expectations for the Utes in 1998 remain high. After all, Utah is still Utah: A program that has played in the NCAA Tournament five times in the last seven years and advanced to the College World Series twice in the '90s. Breaking down the team by position, three of the four daytoday starters return in the outfield, led by AllAmerican senior right fielder Sandy Rhea. Sophomore Jenny Monson and Lisa Hashimoto return in center and left field, respectively. Only one starter returns in the infield, but its a good one in sophomore first baseman Jessie Ziese. The Utes also must replace their entire battery with three pitchers entirely new to the program, a sophomore catcher who has yet to start a single game behind the plate in Sunny Smith and two other freshman catchers.
NOTING THE 1997 SEASON: The Utes 44 wins last season equalled the secondmost in school history, and their 22 victories in conference games equaled the alltime highest mark established in 1994. Utahs top two overall marks were 44 wins in 1985 and 51 wins in 1994. Utah also had the fourthbest winning percentage (.710) in school history last year. Utah broke a school record with its 13thconsecutive victory and tied a school record with its 11th conference win in a row in the second game of a doubleheader against San Jose State on April 25. The streak was ended by Fresno State in the first game of a twin bill the next day. The Utes broke two school singleseason marks. Utah set a new record with 81 doubles, with the old mark of 63 set in 1995, and established a new singleseason high with 160 walks, bettering the 153 walks posted in 1996. Utah also tied a Western Athletic Conference mark with 12 triples in conference play.
HEAD COACH MONA STEVENS... is in her second season as Utahs head coach, entering the 1998 campaign with a 4418 record overall and a 2210 mark against Western Athletic Conference teams. In her first season, Stevens led Utah to the NCAA Tournament and a thirdplace finish in the WAC. This past summer, Stevens coached the USA Softball National Team to the gold medal at the Pan Am Games qualifying tournament. She is one of the nine coaches that will form the USA Softball National Team coaches pool through the 2000 Summer Games. The former Ute player and assistant coach came home in September of 1996 following a twoyear stint at the University of Massachusetts. Stevens was the associate head coach for the Minutewomen during the 1995 and '96 seasons, and was named UMass head coach last June, three months prior to being hired by her alma mater. In each of her two seasons at UMass, Stevens helped the Minutewomen reach the NCAA Tournament and win the Atlantic10 Conference regularseason and tournament championships. UMass posted a 78371 combined record and a .667 overall winning percentage during Stevens tenure. Stevens began her coaching career as an assistant at Utah from 198184. In addition to her collegiate coaching portfolio, Stevens has been a nationally recognized pitching instructor over the past 13 years. She has also worked internationally, and was the owner of Mona Stevens Enterprises from 198994
QUOTING STEVENS: On opening the season