By Kurt Jensen
At the start of a new season the BYU softball team faces some challenges in their quest to defend their Mountain West Conference championship from last year, but that”s not going to stop them from trying.
“After coming off of last season you can either choose to feel pressure or take it as it comes,” said head coach Mary Kay Amicone.
One of the main challenges the team faces is trying to repeat their conference championship after losing nine seniors from last year”s team.
“Right now we are really young,” Amicone said. “The kids that took us to regionals were nine seniors. You don”t lose nine seniors and not feel the affect.”
A direct result of losing so many players is inexperience, and the team has to face challenge at two main positions – pitcher and catcher.
According to Amicone, the team is inexperienced at both positions, including having two freshman catchers.
Even though they lost so many players, the team still has the goal of winning the conference and making it into the post season.
“We know we have our work cut out for us, and we need strong leadership to do that,” Amicone said, in reference to repeating as conference champions.
Junior right fielder Brooke Cadiente, who is a returning player from last year, holds the same goals for the team as Amicone.
“We”d like to win conference again,” Cadiente said. “That way we can get a repeat of regionals.”
Another challenge the team faces is trying to prepare for a softball season in the cold, snowy Utah weather.
The weather isn”t just a problem for practice, it also means the team will play the first month of its season on the road.
Amicone is not using the weather as an excuse, though.
“Every school that has this type of climate faces that obstacle,” she said. “You can choose to make it an excuse or just get over it.”
The team overcomes the weather by holding practice indoors in the Smith Fieldhouse or on the artificial turf practice fields if the weather is relatively nice.
Amicone said they are able to simulate everything they need to indoors.
Although the team has obstacles to overcome, there are some positive elements from last year”s team that have carried over to this season.
“The strength of our team is offense,” Amicone said. “We can produce runs and we”ve maintained most of the people who produce those runs.”
Kari Pringle, a senior second baseman that also played on last year”s team, said she thinks this season”s team works well together.
“I think we are a better offensive and defensive team than last year,” Pringle said.
One of the key offensive players returning from last year is outfielder and first baseman Oli Keohohou, who won the NCAA batting title last year as a freshman with an average of .458. She was also a first team All-American last year.