#23 Utah Softball 2017 Preview

Utah Utes
Overall Rank: #23
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12
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Utah finished the 2016 season in the Tallahassee Super Regional losing a couple of hard fought battles against Florida State. However, the 2016 season will go down as the best in program history as they went into a hostile environment for the Lexington Regional and won a regional. In addition, the Utes won 13 conference games, which is another example of progress for this program as there is plenty of parity in the Pac-12 on annual basis. Finally, with reigning conference player of the year Hannah Flippen back for her senior season, this Utah team will be in position to once again make a repeat trip to Super Regionals and beyond this May.
2016: 35-22, 13-10
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Amy Hogue
Key Departed Players:
Kristen Stewart, IF, .282 4 HR, 29 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Hannah Flippen, IF, 413 BA, 13 HR, 34 RBI
Anissa Urtez, IF, .380 BA, 4 HR, 46 RBI
Delilah Pacheco, UTIL, .335 BA, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Kay Kay Fronda, OF, .295 BA, 5 HR, 20 RBI
Katie Donovan, P, 178.1 IP, 2.47 ERA, 141 SO
Miranda Viramontes, P, 123.0 IP, 2.73 ERA, 92 SO
If the Utes are going to make a run to Oklahoma City they will need Hannah Flippen to play like a national player of the year candidate once again in 2017. Flippen hit .413 last season and has that right mix of power and speed to cause all sorts of problems for opposing teams. Anissa Urtez drove in 46 runs last season and hit .380 and if Urtez can draw more walks that will make the offense even that much more dangerous. Kay Kay Fronda brings a very strong combination of an ability to hit for average and play excellent defense as Fronda only committed two errors last season. Katie Donovan and Miranda Viramontes are back as a 1-2 punch in the circle for Utah and will be looking to build off of their excellent 2016 seasons. Donovan won 20 games with a 2.47 earned run average and had pretty good control, which allowed Donovan to limit batters to a .245 average against her. Viramontes won nine games last season and will be looking to get her hits allowed total down to less than her overall innings pitched. Another key to Viramontes success this season will be lowering the amount of walks in relation to strikeouts so that it comes in at least two plus strikeouts to every walk. The schedule is loaded as always for the Utes as they will play 30 games against teams that were in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. In the end, the mix of experience and talent should be more than enough to get back to the NCAA Tournament with a shot to possibly host.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Madness 2017 Draft Rankings:
#17 Hannah Flippen