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Weber State softball’s Amicone abides her own tenets while finishing her 32-year coaching career

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Apr 21, 2024
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Weber State softball coach Mary Kay Amicone, right, speaks to the crowd as she was honored for her upcoming retirement on Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Ogden.
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Weber State's Makayla Donahoo (13) holds the ball up to the umpire after a tag attempt on Sacramento State's Haley Hanson (8) on Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Ogden.

OGDEN — After spending 32 years trying to instill specific qualities in her teams, it’s only fitting that Mary Kay Amicone’s departure embraces those same tenets.

Weber State honored its 11-year softball coach after Saturday’s 4-3, extra-innings loss to Sacramento State, her last home conference game at the helm of the Wildcats as she nears the retirement she announced before the 2024 season.

After WSU’s three seniors were recognized, the team presented Amicone with a framed No. 3 Wildcats jersey and Steve Klauke, the radio voice of the Wildcats, heralded her career accomplishments from a wireless microphone on the field to a crowd full of her former coaches from her playing days, former co-coaches, and her former players.

“It’s the best. It was amazing, and it just makes everything full circle,” Amicone said about the groups who came to celebrate with her. “It’s been a wonderful time. I felt heartfelt love and support.”

Amicone thanked each of those groups but said her retirement won’t be a disappearance.

“I’ll still be around,” she told the crowd.

Amicone played softball at Weber State and the University of Utah. She was an assistant softball coach at Utah and the state’s first and only women’s head coach of a Utah high school baseball team at Jordan High. She launched BYU’s softball program and took them to the NCAA Tournament in her second season there, then won seven conference championships in nine seasons at Salt Lake Community College, including three national title-game appearances.

That led to her 11 seasons at Weber State, where she’s run her college career win total to 805 while claiming six conference titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances — including the Big Sky Conference’s only win at an NCAA Regional.

Safe to say she’s met one of those key program tenets: “Leave the jersey better than you found it.”

Though Saturday’s nine-inning loss that prevented Weber State from sweeping Sacramento State was fresh on her mind.

“Well, I’m not done. This jersey’s still got some improving to do after today,” Amicone said.

She’s had to manage the fact that each complete game draws her closer to retirement but her team closer to their ultimate test in the conference tournament, and has done so through another tenet: staying present.

“It’s really about your focus and attention, and being present,” Amicone said. “This is a special group and being present every day with them — counting down isn’t what we do. We enjoy the moment … there’s so much good going on and so we just reset and keep the focus 24 hours.”

Aside from the three seniors in Mia Rushton, Makayla Donahoo and Brooke Hatfield, Weber State came into this season as a young team, either by age or by Division I softball experience. But the Wildcats, influenced by Amicone’s leadership, are still in the hunt for the regular-season title with one week left.

Her performance hasn’t wavered, but one final tenet let Amicone know it’s time to hang it up this season.

“We talk a lot about finishing empty. When you’ve started the day and you’re bringing all the energy you can, it’s pretty exhausting,” she said. “I feel like the time is right. I’ve got a lot of great things coming my way with our family.

“But I do feel like that jersey, No. 3, it’s in a good spot.”

Weber State finishes the regular season with a non-conference home game Tuesday against Utah Valley, and a three-game league series April 26-27 at Idaho State.

Weather has caused a large disparity in games played across the conference, but WSU and ISU are among four teams (with Portland State and Northern Colorado) with a shot at claiming the regular-season crown via the best winning percentage.

SAC 4, WSU 3 (9)

After both teams failed to score with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, Malissa George’s leadoff triple in the ninth helped the Hornets claim the series finale Saturday afternoon at Wildcat Softball Field.

George hit a short liner to center field and a Mia Rushton dive while running in came up short, turning a potential single into a triple. George scored on a sacrifice fly on the next batter, and WSU left a runner on second with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Jenna Birch claimed the complete-game win, throwing all nine innings in her college softball debut for the Hornets. She allowed only five hits and pitched around 11 walks by striking out seven.

WSU 8, SAC 0

Weber State finished a double-shutout sweep of Friday’s two games with a five-inning, run-rule victory.

Cali McCraw pitched three over the minimum, allowing two hits and one walk in her shutout while striking out two.

Taegan Smith and Kiaira Smith each hit two-run doubles to kickstart the offense. Third baseman Abby Grundy hit 4 for 4 with three RBIs.

WSU 5, SAC 0

McCraw continued what Brooke Hatfield started in Friday’s opener. Hatfield also faced three over the minimum in a three-hit, complete-game shutout, striking out three Hornets and walking zero.

Makayla Donahoo hit 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs.

After a 2-0 game lasted into the sixth, Taegan Smith broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth by cracking a two-RBI triple over the left fielder’s head.


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