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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Softball makes pit stop at home

Arizona softball center fielder Lauren Schutzler catches a fly ball during the Wildcats? 14-2 victory over Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe.
Arizona softball center fielder Lauren Schutzler catches a fly ball during the Wildcats? 14-2 victory over Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe.

In the heat of Pacific 10 Conference play, No. 2 Arizona softball gets a chance to do something it hasn’t done in nearly a month — play a series at Hillenbrand Stadium.

After being on the road through 11 games: Judi Garman Classic, a series at New Mexico and a series at ASU, the Wildcats have a non-conference break today when they take on the University of Texas at El Paso Miners (26-12, 8-4 Conference USA) in a doubleheader at 4 and 6 p.m.

“”It is kind of different. I kind of forgot about it until I realized, ‘Oh yeah, we’re playing’,”” junior Brittany Lastrapes said. “”I think we’re all really focused on Washington. It’s kind of a weird week. I’m glad to get some at bats before I face Danielle (Lawrie) instead of having a week off.””

The brief trip outside the conference is a buffer between Arizona’s previous series and this weekend’s series against the defending national champions Washington Huskies and the dominating pitching of Danielle Lawrie.

For head coach Mike Candrea and Arizona (30-4, 2-1 Pac-10), any game action is good game action. In a conference that offers little relief weekend to weekend, the Wildcats are happy to have a chance to regroup at home.

“”I’d rather play then practice,”” Candrea said. “”It will be good for us to get some at-bats. It’s on the schedule, and we’re going to play it.””

UTEP is led by senior Stacie Townsend, the most recent C-USA hitter of the week, who leads the Miners in the circle. She batted .750 in UTEP’s doubleheader wins against Southern Mississippi, and has recorded 249 strikeouts in 169 innings pitched.

The C-USA second-place Miners are riding a three-game winning streak. Townsend isn’t the only batter that can get it done at the plate for UTEP. Junior Camillia Carrera leads the Miners with 33 RBIs and a .388 batting average. In comparison, the Wildcats have five starting players batting over .300 and two batting over .425.

Historically, Arizona has had success against the Miners. Last season, the Wildcats took all three of the games against UTEP.

Although the home matchup will give Arizona some momentum going into the weekend, the Wildcats know that the true test will come once they land in Seattle.

Softball Notebook

• The Arizona offense will have a chance to continue its dominance at the plate. Freshman Brigette Del Ponte already has 50 RBIs in her freshman season. Compared to the Wildcat career RBI leaders’ freshman season, Del Ponte is already fourth. Leah Braatz leads the list with 75 in her freshman season in 1994.

• Freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler has a 20-2 record so far this year. With 21 games left in the regular season, Fowler has the opportunity to break the 30-game victory barrier. If she succeeds, Fowler will be the first pitcher to do so since Taryne Mowatt in 2007, when she recorded a 42-12 record.

• The Pacific 10 Conference now boasts seven of their eight teams in the Softball Division I poll. Washington, Arizona and UCLA are in the top 5.

• Brittany Lastrapes has been a powerhouse in the lead-off spot for the Wildcats. Her team-leading .450 batting average has given Arizona the momentum to jump on opponents early and often.

• Head coach Mike Candrea said that he will sporadically use Fowler in certain situations. Fowler has a .389 batting average and gave the Arizona offense a boost this weekend with her first career grand slam, and in Game 3 with ASU, went 2-for-4 with four RBIs.

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