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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Roth takes hot bat into doubleheader

    Laine Roth blasts a home run in a 16-0 win against La Salle on March 8 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Roth has gone yard in each of her last five games.
    Laine Roth blasts a home run in a 16-0 win against La Salle on March 8 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Roth has gone yard in each of her last five games.

    Arizona softball first baseman Laine Roth found her opportunity to shine and the junior didn’t disappoint.

    With second baseman Victoria Kemp sidelined for five of No. 10 Arizona’s six games over spring break as the result of taking a ball to the face in the nightcap of the Texas El-Paso doubleheader March 18, first baseman Sam Banister was moved to second to fill her shoes and in turn, opened up a slot for Roth in the infield.

    During that span, Roth hit a home run in five consecutive games in addition to a collection of other timely hits, and will continue to play first base until Kemp returns.

    She may just be an understudy at first base while Banister is covering second, but Roth is one of the bats that will continue to power the Wildcats (21-8) through the conclusion of their non-conference schedule tonight in a doubleheader against Marshall (12-18) starting at 5 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium.

    “”Laine has been pretty solid all year long and she hit a pretty big hot streak last week,”” said interim head coach Larry Ray. “”Right now, with one of our second basemen (Kemp) going down, it enables us to put someone at first base that we have a lot of confidence in.

    “”Coming into the season (Banister) had a little of an edge over her, but Laine is playing well right now and you have to play those players who are on a hot streak,”” Ray added. “”And she is definitely one of them.””

    Roth has proven throughout the year that lack of playing time hasn’t always stopped her from contributing. She has continued to be a key addition in spot situations, particularly in the pinch-hitter category.

    Though Roth has only played in 22 of Arizona’s 29 games this season, she is second on the team in home runs (9) and is tied with senior catcher Callista Balko for the lead in RBIs (28).

    It’s nothing short of spectacular that Roth has kept up in the numbers category, given she’s only had 49 at-bats to Balko’s 78, while outfielder Brittany Lastrapes leads the team with 96 at-bats.

    “”I just feel really comfortable and I feel that is the main part in why I (have been hitting well),”” Roth said. “”It’s good to know that you are always in the lineup and always there to produce. I have been working with coaches a lot and they have been helping me out and I have finally found my swing.””

    But as the Wildcats approach the Pacific-10 Conference season with a minimum of eight losses (depending on the results of tonight’s doubleheader), Arizona will need more than Roth’s recent hot streak to be successful.

    It could be argued, however, that Arizona’s non-conference schedule this season has been superior to the ones it faced in the past by playing top-10 opponents such as then-No. 6 Northwestern, then-No. 3 Texas A&M, then-No. 10 Baylor, then-No. 6 LSU and No. 6 Michigan.

    “”We didn’t do as well as we would have liked to (in non-conference play),”” said Balko, who leads the team with 10 home runs, matching her total from last season. “”We lost a couple games we went into a little over-confident, but I think it was good for us.””

    The Wildcats’ pattern of success has been strongly contingent on the long ball, as they have already blasted 54 round-trippers this season, including at least one in 14 of their last 15 games.

    Arizona has home run potential throughout its entire lineup, boasting four players with seven or more long balls and seven players with at least four. The team has only lost three games when scoring five or more runs and is undefeated when scoring seven or more.

    On the contrary, when the Wildcats yield a home run to the opposition, they don’t fare well, as they have lost four of the six games in which it has occurred.

    “”We just need to get our confidence up (in tonight’s doubleheader against Marshall),”” Lastrapes said. “”When it comes to those games, we aren’t always all on the same page, so hopefully that won’t be a problem moving forward and we can be more successful.””

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