Opening day for professional baseball in Utah is still weeks away, but the collegiate schedules have been in full swing for well over a month, in some cases. Thanks to Utah’s Wasatch Mountain winters, the collegiate teams based in Salt Lake City—University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College—opened their seasons on the road, playing in sunnier climes and indoor stadiums.
University of Utah Baseball
This year’s Utes baseball team is a mix of veterans and quite a few freshman, which should give head coach Bill Kinneberg plenty to consider as he assembles his regular lineup leading into conference play.
Among the returning players is junior Tyler Yagi, who was the 2009 Mountain West Conference Tournament MVP. Also worth noting is senior Chase Rezac, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds last June but did not sign.
Two freshman to watch, and not just because they’re twins, are Dalton and Dallas Carroll. Dallas was named Mr. Baseball by the Deseret News in 2011, an award given to the top prep ballplayer in the state. Already this season, Dallas was named to the 2013 Dairy Queen All-Tournament Team.
The Utes current record is 5-5 W-L overall. The Utes will play one more series on the road before returning to Spring Mobile Ballpark for their first homestand of the season, March 15-17, where they will face their first Pac-12 opponent, California (Berkeley).
University of Utah Softball
In the Pac-12, the Utes softball team faces off against some of the best softball programs in the country. So the team faced quite a learning curve in the 2012 season, as indicated by their 2-22 W-L record in conference play.
Kelsi “Hoop” Hoopiiaina and Jackie Sweet, who in 2012 combined to set a new club record in double plays turned, are tied for second place in the Pac-12 this season. Along with the slugging Katelyn Elliott at first base, they form the veteran backbone of the defense.
The outfield, utility, designated player and catcher roles are still being sorted out during the early part of the schedule, before conference play begins on March 22.
The Utes are 8-6-1 W-L-T overall thus far, winning six and tying one in their last seven contests. The team will open their home stand in the brand new Ute Softball Stadium with a single game versus non-conference Utah Valley University on March 26, followed by a three-game series against Pac-12 opponents Arizona on March 28-30.