This weekend Utah State softball kicks off the 2018 season with both returning and incoming talent to pave the way for a successful team and campaign.
With fifth-year head coach Steve Johnson directing the Aggies, the team looks forward to improving and building upon the program and figuring out the dynamics of the new squad.
The season starts off with four preseason tournaments. First, USU will head to the Titan Classic, hosted by Cal State Fullerton. There, the team will face Pitt, Cal State Fullerton, Middle Tennessee, Loyola Marymount, and Rutgers. Next, Utah State will set off for Las Vegas to participate in the Marucci Desert Classic to go against Seattle, Buffalo, FIU, Bradley, and Hawai’i. Tournaments will then continue at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, for games with the Islanders, Texas Southern and Omaha. Following a single game at Pacific, the tournament season will come to an end at the Aggie Invitational, hosted by UC Davis. There, the team will face the other Aggies, along with Valparaiso and Northern Colorado.
Following tournament play, USU will host its first home game against Weber State. Interspersed between Mountain West play, Utah State will face several teams outside of the conference, with games against Idaho State, Louisiana Tech, Utah Valley, and BYU.
For the Mountain West section of the season, four home and four away series will take place. At home the Aggies will go against Nevada, Colorado State, Boise State, and conference champions San Jose State. On the road, the team will travel to contests against UNLV, Fresno State, San Diego State, and New Mexico.
Utah State has been picked fourth in the Mountain West preseason poll. Picked first was San Diego State, followed by San Jose State. Just ahead of USU, Fresno was predicted to take third. Nevada falls into fifth, with Colorado State in sixth. Boise State has been chosen to follow in seventh, with UNLV behind in eighth, and New Mexico to fill in for last.
This year’s squad will be welcoming back six starters to the diamond. Seniors Amee Aarhus will return as a third baseman, Brina Buttacavoli as a catcher, and outfielder Jazmin Clarke. Junior outfielder Mia Maher, sophomore and fellow outfielder Riley Plogger and returning sophomore pitcher Kellie Whiter will also be added to the lineup along with six other returning teammates.
Additions to the team this year will consist of eight new freshmen. Kayla Fielder, Kennedy Hira, Delaney Hull, Bri Lerma, Emery Marshall, Leah Molina, Stephanie Reed, and Joely Williamson will be added to the roster in hopes to fill in holes on the field. Coach Johnson hopes to see the freshman contribute both in the batting lineup and with playing in the field.
The Aggies have a goal to take home the Mountain West Title as the season starts to take off. Coming off of a strong 2017 season, the new squad is looking to go up from there.