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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “UA softball players, coaches need to fine-tune adjustments”

    UA sophomore Brittany Lastrapes connects with a pitch during a 7-6 Arizona win against Oregon on March 29 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizonas offense struggled last weekend against Washington and UCLA as it scored four total runs.
    UA sophomore Brittany Lastrapes connects with a pitch during a 7-6 Arizona win against Oregon on March 29 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona’s offense struggled last weekend against Washington and UCLA as it scored four total runs.

    A new season brings a new set of problems. That is what the Arizona softball team is trying to deal with after six Pacific 10 Conference games.

    The Wildcats (32-9, 4-2 Pac-10) are coming off a weekend in which they were shut down by a “”top-three”” pitcher at Washington, blasted an elite foe for nine runs at UCLA then sputtered against that same Bruin team the next day.

    The answers to fixing these inconsistencies in such an up and down year are short and sweet.

    “”Offensively, I haven’t had any complaints,”” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “”This weekend we kind of got shut down. We just could not make the adjustments we needed.””

    Exactly how complicated are those adjustments in the hitting game?

    “”When we played Washington, (pitcher) Danielle (Lawrie) was getting ahead of the hitters a lot, getting first-pitch strikes,”” said Arizona leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes. “”We were taking a lot of those pitches and then she could toy with us a little. We put ourselves in a hole.””

    That answer explained why Arizona would tally zero hits in that game, the first time that has happened since the 2000 season.

    But against UCLA two days later, Arizona scored a run in each of the first two innings, then was silenced after a pitching change by the Bruins. Lastrapes had a simpler explanation for that game, one that was less about strategy and more about getting the job done.

    “”We kind of got into some bad luck against UCLA,”” Lastrapes said. “”They were catching some of our good balls.””

    Are the Arizona batters stepping up to the plate with too much on their minds or without a sense of urgency? Thinking can happen in practice, but during a game, instinct should take over.

    “”Once you’re in a game, you have to hit and let your mechanics take over,”” Lastrapes said. “”We weren’t doing that.””

    Finding the sense of urgency without over analyzing themselves is an adjustment the Wildcats are looking to make in hopes of bringing about enough focus to make their offense consistent.

    Obviously, that solution is easier said than done.

    In the dugout, Candrea and his assistants also have adjustments to make, and the problems that they have faced this year are unlike any other.

    Without a dominating ace in the circle, Candrea is still in the process of figuring out how to manage a three-player pitching staff.

    “”I’ve never had to make so many changes during a game,”” Candrea said. “”You don’t know what to expect and that’s been the toughest thing, not having any idea of what to expect on any given day.

    “”You’re kind of flipping the coin, and that’s not really a good way to manage but that’s kind of the way it is right now,”” he added.

    Despite pitchers Sarah Akamine and Lindsey Sisk having a similar style, to know which particular player matches up with a particular opponent is difficult. Add in a change-of-pace pitcher in Jennifer Martinez and complications arise as to how to most effectively use the trio, Candrea said.

    The inconsistencies in their called pitches, he said, make it difficult to determine whether the match-ups through the opposing lineup are in Arizona’s favor. When that pitcher sees the lineup the second time through, what was first viewed as an advantageous match-up could end up working against the Wildcats.

    Across the board, either the answers are easier said than done, or no solution has become apparent.

    But with a 32-9 record and a No. 10 ranking, the Wildcats must be doing something right. When they do start making those coveted adjustments, watch out.

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