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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona softball struggling to find offensive reps as Pac-12 play approaches

Colin Prenger
Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA softball team defeated the University of New Mexico Lobos Saturday, Oct. 15. The Wildcats beat the Lobos 9-1

There’s an old adage saying the best way to master something is to practice it over and over again. This especially holds true in sports.

Want to be the next Ray Allen? Putting up thousands of jump shots in the offseason can do that for you. In softball, it’s all about getting the reps in to improve your timing hitting the ball — something the Wildcats have struggled with this season due to weather problems.

Six of the last eight games have been canceled due to rainouts or the beating the field has taken from the storm moving over Southern California and Arizona. Last weekend’s highly anticipated showdown with No. 15 Baylor was canceled, as were the final three games of this weekend’s Judi Garman Classic, robbing the Wildcats of seeing live pitching — the most important aspect of hitting.

“Hitting is probably the most difficult thing,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “When you’re not getting a lot of game time, the timing gets off a little bit.”

The softball team practices in the batting cages every day, but senior Jessica Spigner said the lack of live pitching could have a long-term affect on the team.

“We need to see live pitching in order to get our timing down,” Spigner said. “To be canceled a lot sucks because we count on that live hitting to get us prepared for later on in the season.”

“Later on in the season” starts Friday, when the Wildcats travel to Tempe to face the defending NCAA Champion, ASU, beginning the slate of Pac-12 Conference play that includes six ranked teams, along with possible games to make up for the cancelations. The rain couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Wildcats.

“My biggest concern is that we get enough swings and some at-bats and get comfortable and confident at the plate and start preparing,” Candrea said. “When people see you three days in a row, you have to work twice as hard to get the good pitches that you want. Our ability to see a lot of live pitching right now has been minimal, but we’ve got to do what we can rain, snow or shine.”

The lack of sunshine is discouraging, but the team can find hope in its recent play. Ten of the last 12 games the Wildcats have played have been shutouts, a testament to their defense and pitching. Six of those were run-rule-shortened games, so their hitting is not falling apart, but if the Wildcats can get consistent looks at live pitching once the weather clears up, it could be a scary year for the rest of the Pac-12.

“Everyone kind of knows what everyone else is doing,” Candrea said. “The game is going to come down to who can make the plays when they need to be made and get the key hits when they need to. It’s a battle every time we step on the field from here on out.”

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