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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball going through trouble

    Arizona ace Taryne Mowatt releases a pitch in a 2-1 loss to No. 4 UCLA at Hillenbrand Stadium on Sunday. The Wildcats need to get over last weeks 8-1 loss to No. 1 ASU, along with chemistry issues, in order to get back to their dominant selves.
    Arizona ace Taryne Mowatt releases a pitch in a 2-1 loss to No. 4 UCLA at Hillenbrand Stadium on Sunday. The Wildcats need to get over last week’s 8-1 loss to No. 1 ASU, along with chemistry issues, in order to get back to their dominant selves.

    Wass this Way

    When gazing out onto the outfield fences at Hillenbrand Stadium, it wouldn’t be hard to see the true nature of Arizona’s softball program. Judging by the barrage of national championship banners and the names of former Wildcat greats hanging from the historic wall, Arizona’s success is nothing short of a given.

    Tradition and excellence obviously can have a positiveð ð on teams as years go by – take Arizona’s preseason ranking at No. 1 as an example – but it can only go so far.

    Arizona interim head coach Larry Ray said after the No. 9 Wildcats’ 2-1 loss to No. 4 UCLA Sunday that he felt the team was “”living off of the (national championship banners) that are on the outfield fence.””

    But this year’s version of the Wildcats has its own identity – an identity they may be struggling with, nonetheless – despite being immensely talented.

    There is no way to pinpoint the entire issue in terms of what is affecting the Wildcats, but judging by comments and play, the following is a breakdown of what may be holding Arizona back.

    Possible feuds within the team Senior catcher Callista Balko hinted Sunday that players were growing tired of being around each other so much, especially since they have been on the road quite a bit over the course of the last month.

    Stemming from last Wednesday’s 8-1 loss to No. 1 ASU, it was quite apparent Arizona had issues and Balko explained it as not playing as a team.

    Whether it was playing together or just a plain case of not getting along, it was fairly evident they were having major issues.

    “”People were just frustrated with each other. We had a week on the road in Fullerton (Calif.) and two more weeks on the road and we had just been together way too much”” Balko said after Sunday’s loss to the Bruins. “”When you get you get 20 women together way too much, things are going to happen. We just kind of needed some space and we kind of needed to talk about things we weren’t talking about.

    “”Just put things on the table and that’s what we did.””

    Arizona had a players-only team meeting for a few minutes following the ASU loss and another longer meeting the next day.

    “”We just waned to clear the air and get people on the same page,”” Balko said. “”We were frustrated. We are losing and we are not used to that. You are going to get people who are frustrated and you are going to get people not necessarily pointing fingers, but people are just frustrated and it comes across in the wrong way sometimes.””

    There is no telling what happened in the locker room following the loss to the Sun Devils, or maybe even prior to the game, but one thing is for sure, the Wildcats aren’t necessarily in the perfect place in terms of team chemistry.

    Mowatt’s recent struggles spring from ASU loss

    Following Arizona’s loss to the Sun Devils Wednesday, a usually conversational Taryne Mowatt decided to not converse with reporters after a game in which she gave up eight earned runs.

    It is quite understandable that pitchers aren’t going to have their best stuff on every start and Mowatt undoubtedly didn’t have her best day. But to her, it was the worst loss she could remember.

    After the loss to the Bruins, Mowatt was asked how she dealt the loss to the Sun Devils and she responded, “”not good”” before having to excuse herself from the interview because tears were approaching.

    “”That game (against ASU on Wednesday) – I didn’t feel like myself,”” Mowatt said after composing herself. “”I felt

    uncomfortable and I felt really awkward out there and that was the first time since probably my freshman year that I kind of had no idea what to do.””

    The loss to the Sun Devils was undoubtedly one of the worst defeats Arizona has had in recent memory, especially for team veterans. But for Mowatt, it was a disaster.

    Mowatt has proven to be the leader of the Wildcats for the past two seasons, and seeing such a fierce competitor and outstanding athlete resort to tears out of frustration can’t be a good sign for the Wildcats.

    The up side, if there is one, is Mowatt seemed to be back on track in Sunday’s loss to No. 4 UCLA, in which she gave up only two runs – one bad pitch toward the end of the game proved to be the difference.

    Players focusing on different things

    A collection of Wildcats said lately that players have been focusing on doing their own things, which in turn points to the individuality of each member of the squad rather than focusing on the team.

    Mowatt said that was the case not only on the field, but also in social settings and life outside of softball.

    “”It is just kind of everything in general,”” Mowatt said. “”You can’t really pinpoint it. It is just everything in general. People have different ideas of what they want to happen, what they think should happen, but now I think everyone’s goals are the same.””

    Whether that is the case or not, during the period of time where players weren’t as focused as they should be, it cost the squad some critical games. The fact is, Arizona is still a top-tier team and lack of talent was definitely not the cause of the blowout loss to ASU, which leaves the only other plausible reason to off-the-field issues between members of the team.

    Moving forward

    Whatever the issues may have been, there is light at the end of the tunnel. That was proven in last weekend’s games, as the Wildcats took two of three against ranked opponents. If it wasn’t for a pitching mistake from Mowatt that turned into a home run, it could have been three.

    Players on the team will tell you they were in disarray, but the squad that returned to Hillenbrand Stadium for its weekend set looked like it was almost back to normal.

    The Wildcats will continue to play games at Hillenbrand where their backs are to some impressive signs, but if they want to put a sign of their own out there, the chemistry between the team
    must improve.

    Put best, they need to forget about any possible feud they once had and remember the love of playing softball.

    Ari Wasserman is a journalism junior and can be reached at

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