For its final preseason tournament, the University of Utah softball team packed its bags to travel across the country to compete in the Maryland Invitational in College Park, Maryland.
This tournament is hosted by the University of Maryland and will feature games against the host school, Miami (Ohio), Jacksonville and Yale. The team will compete in two games on Thursday, another two on Saturday one early game on Sunday morning before returning to Salt Lake City. The team will have an off day on Friday.
“With the whole team, we are working on driving the ball up the middle, staying with our legs and having a little bit of fun with the bats this weekend,” said sophomore Alyssa Barrera. “These games are really important to us and we need to get some wins. That’s the big plan for the whole team.”
The Utes are coming off of a relatively successful weekend in Texas, where they came away with three wins and two losses in the Texas A&M Tournament.
As Utah prepares for regular season play, the players know they need to play their best in order to keep up their record going into Pac-12 play — before the Maryland Invitational, the team stood at 9-7.
“This is a good time for us to get on a good roll going into conference play,” said head coach, Amy Hogue. “This is a good last weekend for us to get far away from home, get in a good rhythm as a group and to head into our final preseason weekend. It is the last time to tune up some things.”
From all of its preseason work, the team has been growing and coming together as a cohesive unit with each competition. The Utes are learning more and more about each other, and they are prepared to face Pac-12 play head-on.
“Our focus this weekend is a lot of balance, rhythm and timing on offense which equates to a lot of hits in the middle of the field,” Hogue said. “We want to hit gap to gap this weekend and trust our swings. We struggled with that at times last weekend, but at times we also did it well. Our successes came for us when we did those things.”
The Utes have been working hard as a team and independently in practice so everyone can set up their play for the upcoming games.
“We don’t think in terms of what game is most important, we think in terms of what game is next,” Barrera said. “The biggest game is the next one.”