Utewrap: The week in Utah sports, April 7-13
GYMNASTICS » The Utes have made a conscious effort to improve team chemistry after last year’s ninth-place finish. So far, they say, so good. After a favorable draw at the NCAA Championships, we’ll see if the Red Rocks’ intangible improvements pay off this week in Birmingham. First they’ll try to beat three out of No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Florida, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 10 UCLA and No. 12 Penn State to reach the Super Six and have a puncher’s chance at their 11th national championship.
ON DECK: NCAA Championships, Thursday through Saturday, Birmingham, Ala.
FOOTBALL » It’s been a tough spring for Utah’s linebackers, with Jacoby Hale tearing his ACL and then, Tuesday, Gionni Paul breaking his foot on a seemingly innocuous play. Still, Utah’s defense held its own in the second spring scrimmage, and sophomore Marcus Sanders-Williams went from competing for carries Tuesday with running backs Bubba Poole, Devontae Booker and Troy McCormick to wrapping them up as a first-string middle linebacker Saturday.
ON DECK: Days 13-15 (Tuesday and Thursday 3-5 p.m., either at the practice field or Rice-Eccles Stadium. Saturday’s Spring Game starts 1 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Inclement weather may lead team to practice inside. Public may view outdoor practices.)
MEN’S BASKETBALL » Utah freshman small forward Ahmad Fields told The Tribune on Monday that he would transfer to another program nearer to his home in Washington, D.C. Fields’ decision was seemingly the result of a glut of Utah small forwards between Jordan Loveridge, Kyle Kuzma and Brekkot Chapman. Fields played sparingly, but per minute played, he led the team in points and rebounds, according to an analysis from Light The U.
ON DECK: Season over
BASEBALL » The Pingin’ Utes (11-21,2-12 Pac-12) split a pair of thrillers with the host Trojans on Friday and Saturday, first winning 3-2 in 13 innings on a Konnor Armijo RBI single and then losing in the bottom of the ninth after a USC sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. Sunday, the home team took the rubber match, 13-2. Ranked No. 23, the inbound Bruins nonetheless entered Sunday’s game against Arizona as losers of six of their last nine.
ON DECK: vs. UCLA (5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon Saturday at Smith’s Ballpark)
SOFTBALL » Weber State was little match for the Utes (16-19, 3-12 Pac-12), falling 18-6 in a midweek doubleheader, but No. 11 Arizona State was a different story. The Sun Devils held the Utes to just eight runs in a three-game sweep in Tempe, although junior right fielder Marissa Mendenhall finished the series 4-10 with two homers and four RBIs.
ON DECK: at Utah Valley (doubleheader Monday at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., in Orem), vs. Stanford (3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon Saturday)