Rising from the dust: Hopes high for USU softball squad
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 16:02
The Utah State softball team opened the 2013 season at the Red Desert Classic in St. George over the weekend. It competed in five games, losing all of them, including games against nationally-ranked Tennessee and in-state rival SUU. Despite the rough start, expectations from the players are still high.
“I want to see us go really far in the WAC, and I think we have all the potential to get there,” said sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton. “We have a very strong team this year.”
Head coach Carissa Kalaba agreed.
“My expectations haven’t changed,” Kalaba said. “I believe that we have all the talent in the world to win the WAC. All the pieces are there. The girls just need to believe that they can do it.”
A challenge for the softball team has been the snow and the cold, which forces the team to practice indoors and off of the real playing field. The players were able to practice on dirt for the first time this season when it arrived in St. George, just one day before the season opener against Tennessee.
Though all five games resulted in a loss for the Aggies, players said it was good to be able to play on an actual field.
“I think that’s what everybody was excited about, getting on a real field and getting out on the turf,” Froton said. “We just worked through early season jitters.”
Senior pitcher Mandy Harmon said games provided a better look at where the team was.
“This weekend just showed us everything we need to work on for our upcoming tournament,” Harmon said. “I know a lot of it is hitting-wise, and we just need to get a little bit more comfortable and make better pitch selections, but that’s exactly what we are doing at practice this week because that is what we learned in the last tournament.”
“It was great to play at game speed, there is no substitute for game speed,” Kalaba said. “Every single game we saw improvement in the girls and in the way they responded on the field. The girls got better offensively and defensively throughout the entire game. Opening up against the number-six team in the nation isn’t that easy to do when you’re not playing at game speed and it’s certainly not when you don’t get to practice on dirt for over a month.”
Kalaba said working as a team and putting the team first will be key to having a successful season.
“Softball is kind of interesting that way,” Kalaba said. “Although it is very individual, it is very team based.”
Harmon said the team camaraderie this year is great and it will help the team reach the goal of winning the WAC tournament.
“Our main quote is ‘team first.’ You’re never selfish. You never think about yourself, but you are doing everything for the end result of the team,” Harmon said. “Out of all four years I’ve been here, this year our team is the closest it’s ever been.”