By the time the Utah Valley softball team steps back onto the field Friday, it will have been 348 days since the last time they played. That last game was Mar. 8, 2020 at the Northern Colorado Tournament in Greely, Colorado.
The Wolverines were off to one of their best starts in recent school history with a 12-7 record, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut down the rest of the season. UVU was originally slated to start the 2021 season on Feb. 12 at the Aggie Classic in College Station, Texas, but those games were canceled due to inclement weather.
“We’re ready to go,” said head coach Stacy May-Johnson. “Our women — they want to play, and they’ve got something to prove. They want to go out there and show everyone how good they are. They got off to a great start last year and they want to pick up right where they left off.”
Getting off to a hot start is exactly what every team hopes to do, and for a team that will be returning eight of their nine starters from last season, it’s something that certainly won’t be out of reach for the Wolverines.
Two of those starters have been selected to the 2021 All-WAC team, senior pitcher Devyn Cretz and sophomore outfielder Abby Doughty.
“Devyn, she has great command,” May-Johnson said. “She has a lot of experience and at this point, she is a very seasoned pitcher. She doesn’t make many mistakes, and she is tough to hit because she is always hitting her spots.”
Cretz started out 5-3 last season with an ERA of 2.45, which was second among all WAC pitchers. She was also named the WAC Player of the Week twice in last year’s shortened season. UVU can also look to sophomore pitcher Brooke Carter, the only pitcher in school history to throw a perfect game, to help the team in the circle.
The Wolverines had no shortage of offense either, averaging 4.5 runs scored per game, thanks to Doughty’s hitting, who hit a conference-best .456 from the plate, with four home runs, two triples, and three doubles. Doughty was also named WAC Hitter of the Week in week four of last year’s season.
“Abby Doughty is a really talented young player, she is fast, she hits the ball well,” said May-Johnson. “She has all the tools and she does so many things beyond the stat line, she is invested, she is intense and so she is also a great culture player too.”
UVU was selected to finish in third place in the 2021 WAC Coaches poll, behind Seattle and New Mexico State. In order for the Wolverines to win the conference, May-Johnson believes they will have to play all-around great softball. This season will prove if UVU has the experience and talent needed to find themselves at the top of the conference when the WAC tournament starts.
The Wolverines are scheduled to play five games to kick off their season at the Dixie State Classic in St. George, Utah, including a matchup with No. 2 Washington. The first pitch of the season is scheduled to be thrown on Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. MT when UVU takes on Montana.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.