Keys to success for UVU softball in 2016
In 2015, the UVU softball team ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference in homeruns with 55. Jaylen Watson led the Wolverines with 13 followed by Brittany Vansway with 10. Considering that UVU led the WAC in strikeouts with 343, scoring by way of the long ball is a key to success for the Wolverines. UVU returns it top four hitters from the 2015 squad, including Vansway, Watson, Brianna Gatlin and Taleigh Williams so there should be no shortage of homeruns for this team.
Hitting more homeruns might negate the big innings that the Wolverines surrendered to their opponents in 2015. UVU lost 18 games by the run-rule, which means they lost by eight runs or more. Some of those games, such as when the Wolverines played at Idaho State, are examples of that. The Wolverines led 2-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. But the Bengals scored nine runs over the next two innings to win 10-2.
“I think that we have to take our time a little bit more,” UVU head coach Nikki Palmer said. “We have to play pitch by pitch and our pitchers really need to understand situations. It’s a mental game to be able to learn that and be comfortable in those situations is important.”
Speaking of pitching, the entire pitching staff except for Kailey Christensen, who transferred to Metropolitan State University of Denver, returns for the 2016 season. It is a staff that had a lot of ups and downs. Bailey Moore had the highlight of the season for the UVU softball team when she pitched a no-hitter at BYU on March 21. Moore was also named as the WAC Pitcher of the Week for her efforts at BYU. Beyond that, however, the UVU pitching staff really struggled. They finished last in the WAC in earned run average at 6.64. And one key stat that coaches don’t like to see is the amount of walks that a staff gives up. UVU gave up 324 walks in 2015. Walks mean extra base runners and extra base runners usually lead to extra runs. Along with Moore, Makayla Shadle, Kelsey Lawton, Kellee Ramsey and freshman Kelsea Sweeney will try to do their job in the circle to help UVU avoid giving up big innings.
“It’s going to come down to our pitching,” Palmer said. “Our bats are going to return like last year. Our defense is looking really, really good. I expect us to be well above .500 and finish at the top of the WAC.”
Homeruns, negating big innings and better pitching are key components for the Wolverines to get where they want to go.
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