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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball finshes at 2-2

    TEMPE – Arizona softball leaves the Kajikawa Classic with a record of 2-2 after their final game against UC Santa Barbara was canceled due to rain on Sunday. The Wildcats could have used the game to come out of the tournament with a winning record.

    “”Obviously it’s not where we wanted to be, but it’s still really early,”” said sophomore left fielder Brittany Lastrapes.

    Since the return of head coach Mike Candrea after a year at the helm of the U.S. Olympic team, the Wildcat’s strength as a team is being tested. After the departure of star pitcher Taryne Mowatt, this season’s young Arizona squad had some questions to answer going into this weekend.

    The second day of the tournament brought a challenge for the Wildcats as they faced two teams ranked in the preseason top 25. The prestige of Arizona softball comes with pressure, as teams around the nation know Arizona’s reputation.

    “”Whenever we go out there it’s always a challenge,”” said catcher Stacie Chambers. “”We always have a target on our back.””

    Arizona’s offense was stifled in its earlier game that day, and both of its losses came in the early Friday and early Saturday games. Against No. 9 Northwestern (2-1), pitcher Lauren Delaney allowed four hits and allowed just one run to defeat the Wildcats 3-1.

    When the Wildcats faced No. 23 Navada on Saturday, their bats came alive. In defeating the Wolf Pack 7-2, Chambers led off the scoring in the third for the Wildcats, followed by Sam Banister and Kristen Arriola, who both moved runners over. Lastrapes, though, had the most productive day with three hits and two RBIs.

    “”I feel like we realized we had to come together as a team,”” said Lastrapes. “”We took it upon ourselves and we made an adjustment.””

    The adjustment to the Wildcat offense was clear. It would threaten late in the game, but was never able to convert. After being shut down in its early games, Arizona built a lead in the beginning of the later games that it would hold throughout the games. The Wildcats’ focus shifted from a defensive-minded team to one concentrating on their offense in order to avoid becoming a hit-or-miss team.

    The difficulty of the Northwestern and Kansas games proved an early test for the Wildcats. Arizona will play more than 31 percent of its games against teams that were ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll.

    “”They give us something to work for,”” said junior pitcher Sarah Akamine. “”We know they were ranked, and we know they’re good teams.””

    In preseason, it was the Wildcats’ pitching that was in question. Pitcher Lindsey Sisk struggled in the opening tournament. Both of her outings resulted in losses. Sisk (0-2) pitched the first Friday and Saturday games for Arizona. Against Kansas, she gave up five runs on five hits and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings. Saturday’s outing resulted in giving up three runs on eight hits, in six innings of work.

    Akamine (2-0) finished the final two outs of Arizona’s first game in the tournament and then pitched the second games on both Friday and Saturday, recording victories against UTEP and Nevada.

    Unlike Sisk, in Akamine’s games the Wildcat offense came alive. Their bats spread throughout the diamond, getting all players involved.

    “”I’m so happy with them, they’re backing me up defensively,”” said Akamine. “”The way they’re hitting, it’s great just to know they’re behind me.””

    Now the focus has shifted to the offense, where a hit-or-miss team emerged over the weekend.

    Arizona will resume play in the USF Wilson Tournament in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 13. against Marshall and USF.

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