Ravell Call, Deseret News
Utah's Diana Phillips runs back to the dugout after a catch.

To some a .398 batting average is amazing and almost impossible to achieve, let alone maintain for a whole season. To others, it's not quite .400. Ute senior Diana Phillips knows both sides of the story having finished with the .398 average last year.

"If I have one individual goal, it's to finish with a .400 average for the season. I think coming so close last year made me want it more."

The senior outfielder isn't much for bragging about her individual achievements, a trait she attributes to growing up in a large family. She's the youngest of eight children and realizes the important role everyone plays, something her teammates and coaches love about her.

"Diana and I have been playing together since we were 8 years old. I've never seen her struggle with anything she's tried. I remember her even being able to eat a foot-long Subway sandwich when we were 9. Despite her success she's so humble, and even still helps the freshmen haul equipment," said Staci Hemingway, who played with Phillips at Taylorsville High School.

Another fan of Phillips is Amy Hogue. The former All-American is in her first season as head coach of her alma mater.

"Having Diana for only one year is kind of a tease. I spent the summer and fall trying to recruit someone to replace her when she graduates, and there are just very few players out there like her."

Phillips echoes the respect of her coach, saying how fun it is to play for someone as passionate about the Utah softball program as Hogue. For Phillips, the head coaching position has been anything but consistent during her time at Utah.

"I chose to play at Utah because of Mona Stevens. After Mona left, it was hard for me because there was a lot of inconsistency. But I think having the coaches provide four different batting styles has helped improve my hitting. If you only know how to hit one way, you're more likely to slump than someone who knows variety and can find ways to get on base," said Phillips.

As a freshman, Phillips started all but one game for the Utes and Stevens. Stevens resigned before Phillips' sophomore season, leaving her to play for two interim head coaches and a new head coach her junior year. But despite the inconsistency, Phillips' batting average has jumped an average of .044 every year.

Her senior campaign has seen the same success. She leads the Mountain West Conference in batting average and triples and is on the verge of cracking several top 5 Ute career categories. She also has the Utes in place to compete for the conference title and get back to the NCAA Tournament, which she experienced as a sophomore.

Phillips entered this season hitting at a .353 career clip, which would place her second all-time. If Phillips does finish in the career top 5, she'll knock out a record set by coach Hogue.

"Those records are going to fall sometime. It's going to mean more if it's someone you coached and someone like Diana," said Hogue.

Phillips and the Utes are back in action Tuesday as they host Utah State in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.