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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New sense of urgency

April 9, 10 and 11 were supposedly the season-changing dates for the Arizona softball team.

“”I feel like we got some urgency,”” sophomore Karissa Buchanan said in reference to a mid-April Washington sweep of her Wildcats. “”We got to put a lot of pride in what we work on.””

So with an eight-game winning streak after two promising wins against the California Golden Bears Friday and Saturday, the future looked bright.

But then, an 8-0 loss in the series finale — a game that saw the Wildcats make five errors and give up six unearned runs — brought the team back to reality.

That’s today’s reality, and the Washington sweep of Arizona is now a thing of the past, no matter how much the team talks about it.

There’s still an uphill climb and the Wildcats need a new fire lit under their chairs.

The fire from the Washington series is smoldering.

In Sunday’s series finale against the Bears, the Arizona defense didn’t show behind senior pitcher Sarah Akamine.

California’s balls were put in play against Akamine, who isn’t known as a strike-out pitcher — see 10 hits by the Bears’ bats—but to place blame on the back-up pitcher is a cop-out.

The Wildcats checked out one game too early; it’s as simple as that.

The last time a defense at Arizona follied so frequently came during an 11-0 loss to Oklahoma in March of 2007. Pitching that game was then-freshman Akamine, who lost her first collegiate game in five innings.

“”Today was an ugly day,”” said head coach Mike Candrea Sunday after being run-ruled for only the second time this season. “”We did not play defense. We just did not support (Akamine) well offensively or defensively.””

It was a wake-up call for sure.

Do games like that show a team needs to refocus, or is it simply a toss-out contest — something to forget about?

Surely for Arizona, it needs to be the former. Blowout losses can’t be overlooked.

Does it need to be taken to heart as much as the Washington series?

Not necessarily, but it needs to be used as a new reason for motivation, a new reason to realize that the Wildcats haven’t found their identity yet.

During the eight-game winning streak, Arizona had the urgency Buchanan said was needed.

But when the Bears dropped eight runs on Arizona Sunday, and when the Wildcats couldn’t muster more than three hits, that urgency appeared lost for the first time in a while.

So what do they do?

Get back at it.

“”The next three weeks are going to define who we are and how far we go,”” Candrea said before the weekend.

But a loss doesn’t define how far the Wildcats go.

How they treat the loss will be what defines them.

— Kevin Zimmerman is a journalism junior. He can be reached

at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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