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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Softball champs return to diamond, host exhibitions”

    UA pitcher Taryne Mowatt winds up during the Arizona softball teams run to a second consecutive national title in June. Mowatt, one of the key returners for the Wildcats, and the rest of the team will begin the first of eight fall exhibition games tomorrow at Hillenbrand Stadium
    UA pitcher Taryne Mowatt winds up during the Arizona softball team’s run to a second consecutive national title in June. Mowatt, one of the key returners for the Wildcats, and the rest of the team will begin the first of eight fall exhibition games tomorrow at Hillenbrand Stadium

    In a sport that measures success by most recent accomplishments, the twotime defending national champion Arizona softball team is moving beyond its rear view mirror this weekend to prepare for a fresh start.

    The Wildcats host eight exhibition contests at Hillenbrand Stadium beginning tomorrow, with a doubleheader against Yavapai at 4 p.m. and Eastern Arizona at 6.

    “”You’re not going to live on your reputation very long,”” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “”Those (last two) seasons were great seasons, but they’re over with, and now it’s time to start a new one. It’s what this group does on a day-to-day basis that’s going to allow them an opportunity to be successful.””

    The fall tournament marks the last time Candrea leads Arizona before taking a leave of absence to coach the USA Softball team in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    Candrea led the 2004 national team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

    Arizona has made 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including a bid to the College World Series in 18 of the last 19 years under Candrea’s reign. “”It’s going to leave a big impact,”” pitcher Taryne Mowatt said of Candrea’s leave. “”You can’t replace him in the leadership spot, but I think he’s prepared our other coaches very well, and I think they’re going to take over his same tendencies.””

    Vacancies from last year’s team havegiven Candrea the opportunity to experiment with position swaps – a process made all the easier with live games, he said. Candrea faces replacing key senior starters at center field, shortstop and second base.

    Four freshmen occupy the roster, with four returning sophomores who largely lack playing experience. Lacking urgency, these fall games remain one step up in preseason
    training, Candrea said.

    “”My biggest goal is to take care of the things you’ve got control over, and part of that is attitude and effort,”” he said. “”It’s one thing when you practice every day, but it’s nice to see someone else in the other dugout.””

    Mowatt returns after a storybook junior year, when the reigning WCWS Most Outstanding Player became Arizona’s single-season record-holder in innings pitched (370), strikeouts (522) and victories (42). She also won two ESPY awards this summer.

    The tournament returns Mowatt to game mode for the first time since her unforgettable World Series performance.

    Mowatt threw eight complete games over a seven-day stretch and believes such experience helps her focus on title No. 3.

    “”I think it’s a little bit easier when you have won before because you know what you’re working for,”” she said. “”Now after winning a couple championships, yeah, it’s hard, but we know what we’re working for and what we need to do to get there.””

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