Assistant Sports Editor
Utah Valley softball faced some really tough competition in the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, losing five games and dropping to 0-10 on the season.
The difficult opponents included Long Beach State, Toledo,
UNLV and Boise State, and then the Wolverines were shutout by Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State Buckeyes. The Wolverines scored only five runs on the entire trip.
“Mentally we just weren’t prepared the way we needed to be,” Head Coach Nikki Palmer said. “And a little too much pressure on ourselves.”
This is a young team with nine true freshmen on the roster out of 21 spots. The team comes into this season lacking experience and an identity of who they are. The mental game of sports can be just as challenging as the physical side.
UVU has two freshmen getting big playing time in their three person pitching rotation. Kelsey Lawton and Bailey Moore are getting the innings over a struggling junior Josi Summers.
“The freshmen are learning and getting their feet wet,” Palmer explained. “Getting experience is what I love about the preseason. It’s so challenging, [but] they are going to face the best of the best right away and make them even better going into conference.”
To put things in perspective, Lawton, a freshman, got the starting nod for the pitcher’s mound against an Ohio State team that just played a Florida Gatorsteam that is ranked no. 1 in the nation. The Buckeyes earned four runs against Lawton and she was taken out of the game after 2.1 innings thrown.
The UVU Wolverines have another five games on the road at the Mayfair
Invitational in Long Beach, California, where they face their toughest opponent this season, the no. 4 Michigan Wolverines.
UVU will not be intimidated by the name or rank of their opponents.
Palmer is building a culture that requires her players to think green.
Additionally, Palmer has said that her team will not be bothered by their opponents because to win games, you need to play your game.
The Wolverines also have another chance to avenge a loss to Long Beach when UVU faces them again in the next tournament.
“I think we’re excited about playing Long Beach again,” Palmer said. “I don’t feel like they were so dominant over us, it was just a matter of [us] not playing the game we know how to. Having a second opportunity like that is exciting for us.”
UVU softball is optimistic that their difficult preseason schedule will pay off when they begin their first season in WAC play. The Wolverines have 17 additional away games before conference play begins March 28 against Bakersfield.
Their first home game of the season will be against Utah State on
March 18 at 1:00 p.m.