If there was a question heading into the 2013 Utah women's softball season, pitching was it. The three hurlers coach Amy Hogue was depending on were young and inexperienced, including freshman Kayce Nieto and Junior Naomi Amu, who was 8-9 last season with a 2.97 earned-run average.
Sophomore Mariah Ramirez owns a qualify fastball, but only had five varsity starts.
And that inexperience showed at the start of the season as the Utes stumbled out to a 2-6 start. Since then, however, the Utah pitching has improved. In a current seven-game unbeaten streak, the Utes have outscored their opponents 42-16
"What we learned last season in the Pac-12 is that until you have someone who's throwing 70 miles per hour with a good change-up to compliment it, you really need to use a combination of pitchers to win ball games," Utah coach Amy Hogue, now entering her sixth season, said before the season started. "We're going to have to use a combination of two or even three pitchers."
The streak started when Amu, who had been knocked around a bit earlier this season, threw seven innings of five-hit ball with one unearned run in a 3-1 victory against Long Beach State.
Amu came back to beat Colorado State 4-1 and then threw five shutout innings in a 7-0 victory against LIU Brooklyn. Nieto picked up a win against Ohio State in relief before Ramirez allowed an unearned run during a 1-1 tie with Cal Poly. The game was called due to a time limit.
The Utes take a week off before traveling to Utah Valley on March 5.
Utah swimmers head to deep water
Utah will swim with sharks this week at the Pac-12 Women's Swimming Championships.
Traycie Swartz holds several schools records, including the 100 freestyle. The Ute junior and teammates find themselves in a truly deep and competitive field.
Utah, which finished the regular season with three consecutive dual meet victories, will need top performances all around to make any dent in team standings.
Competition begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. The men compete a week later.
Top-ranked USC is one of six Pac-12 women's teams ranked among the top 25, including four of the top six spots. Stanford, which is looking for its 19th conference championship, was the only team to beat the Trojans.
Two-time national champion California is led by Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year Caitlin Leverenz.
Utah seeks 12th title
Can the third time be a charm for the Utah ski team?
The Utes, who finished third at the recent NCAA West Region competition, qualified a full team for the NCAA Championships between March 6-9 in Middlebury, Vt.
Utah, seeking its 12th national championship, looks to improve on back-to-back second-place finishes. Twelve Utes, including six more who will act as alternates, will be among the 74 men and 74 women who will compete at Middlebury College, which is hosting the event for the fifth time at Snow Bowl and the Rikert Nordic Center.
The No. 1 seed in classical and freestyle Nordic competition is Miles Havlick, back to defend his NCAA title in the 20-K freestyle. Ana Kobal is the second seed in women's alpine, including slalom.