Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Utah softball team hits the road to face the No. 10 team in the country, Washington. The Huskies are 30-10 on the season and have beat top-tier teams like No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 23 Minnesota, Notre Dame and Nebraska.
Washington comes into the series with an 11-7 Pac-12 record, currently sitting at fourth place in the Conference of Champions, while Utah is slightly ahead at No. 2.
Utah head coach Amy Hogue is hoping the team brings its recent confidence with them to Seattle, carrying momentum on offense into the weekend.
“It’s been nice to be at home, and that [playing on the road] will shake it up a little bit. The confidence that we’ve gained here [at home] is something that I hope they just roll with,” Hogue said.
Outfielder Ally Dickman, who was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the second time on Monday, says Utah has to have the same mentality that they have at home recently in order to extend its winning streak over the weekend.
“[We’ve] gotta carry the same mentality that we have here, playing at home, into Washington,” Dickman said. “Swinging at our pitches and carrying our confidence.”
The Huskies’ strong suit is their powerful offense, which ranks second in the Pac-12 for conference batting average, runs scored, doubles, and home runs. Ali Aguilar is Washington’s star player on offense. Aguilar leads the Pac-12 in runs scored (55), runs batted in (57), home runs (20) and total bases (111). Kimberlee Souza is also impressive, batting .389 with 24 runs, seven doubles, 11 home runs and 44 RBIs.
As a whole, the Huskies bat .344 and score an average of 7.65 runs per game. Going up against Washington’s explosive defense will be Utah’s versatile pitching, one of the best in the Pac-12. Utah has a 2.53 combined ERA, second-best in the Pac-12. Katie Donovan, who has a conference second-best 1.90 ERA, and Miranda Viramontes, with an ERA of 2.89, will try to quell the Washington offensive storm. The Utes have allowed a league-low 114 runs this season.
Backing up Utah’s excellent pitching is one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. The Utes’ fielding percentage is .971, just .001 off from Oregon. Utah was turned 25 double plays this season, second-best in the Conference of Champions, and has only committed 36 errors, second-best behind Oregon’s 31.
Utah can also bring fire to the plate. The Utes are batting .320 and rank in the bottom half of the Pac-12 in most offensive statistics, but when they get on a roll, they can be unstoppable. Over the last eight games, Utah has 58 runs, an average of 7.25 runs scored per game.
While Utah will be looking to maintain its hot play, Hogue is trying something a little different for this road trip.
“[The Utes], for some reason, really feel confident at the plate at home, and I’ve asked them to go write down some of the things that they think about when they’re in the box here, and bring that with them and put it in their head when they’re batting in Seattle,” Hogue said.
Utah and Washington face off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. First pitch will be at 7 p.m., 7 p.m. and 12 p.m. MST, respectively.