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USU softball: Aggies look for a farewell WAC title

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 1:14 p.m. MST

The Aggies head coach Carissa Kalaba enters her fourth season at the helm. Kalaba has a mix of young talent and proven veterans entering the 2013 campaign as the team looks to make a push for a farewell conference title.

Utah State enters it’s eighth and final season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. USU will be moving to the Mountain West Conference for the 2013-14 athletic calendar.

“Our expectations as a team is to win the WAC. The players want it and that falls in line with what we as a coaching staff expect. Right out of the gate, this team has wanted to win it, and they want to go to the first round of the NCAA tournament,” Kalaba said.

After finishing last season with a 17-36 record to go along with a 4-17 conference mark, Utah State will look to qualify for the WAC Tournament in May. The top six conference teams qualify for the conference tournament with the winner advancing on to the NCAA Softball Tournament. The WAC Tournament will be hosted by Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La.

The WAC welcomed four new contenders to its ranks this season. Seattle, UT Arlington, UTSA and Texas State will all see its first WAC action in 2013.

Notes

Utah State will face three opponents ranked in the NFCA Preseason Top 25 in No. 6 Tennessee (Feb. 8), No. 7 Texas (Feb. 23) and No. 13 Arizona (Feb. 17). USU will also face two teams that received preseason votes to be included in the Top 25 in in-state foe BYU (April 10) and Tulsa (Feb. 22).

USU returns eight starters from last years squad, including two Preseason all-WAC players in senior infielder Christine Thomsen and sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton.

“Three of our main goals this offseason were to get as athletic as possible as a team, to work on our mental game as a team and improve on the fundamentals as a team. We are putting team first in everything that we do. Those are major components in the culture of our team, as well as creating a good foundation of honesty, integrity and accountability,” Kalaba said.

Seniors

Utah State will look to its five seniors to help guide them through the 2013 campaign. Returning for their senior season will be utility player Katie Bowdidge, designated player Kali Cancelosi, pitcher Mandy Harmon, infielder Christine Thomsen and pitcher Shelbi Tyteca.

“Our senior class has good leadership and diversity between the five of them. Our team captain Christine Thomsen is a returning first-team all-WAC player, she is the nucleus of team. We depend on her to do lead and we depend on our seniors to set the example for our younger players,” Kalaba said.

Infielders

The Aggie infield will bring experience and athleticism into the 2013 season. Fielding the corners will be senior Christine Thomsen at first, who had one of the best all-around seasons in program history. Settling in at third will be junior Allison Lenzora, a 2011 all-WAC second team honoree and all around defensive force.

Up the middle for Utah State will be a pair of juniors. At second, junior Kassandra Uchida who will move into the infield after seeing the majority of her action last season in center field. Completing the infield will be Fresno State transfer, junior shortstop Becca Walker.

“I have been looking for the type of athleticism we currently have in the infield for three years. We have the type of athletes that we have been looking for. We have diversity and we have a fluidity when making plays in the infield. We have an ideal infielding core from my perspective in terms of what each player has to offer and the role each one plays,” Kalaba said.

Catchers

USU returns an experienced and skillful catcher in junior Samantha Miller. The junior has managed behind the plate duties over the last two seasons.

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