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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Ray’s ejection sparks softball in series finale

    Arizona softball interim head coach Larry Ray saw his team’s weekend going in the wrong direction, and he couldn’t help but say something about it.

    Having already split the first two games of the Pacific 10 Conference opening weekend in Northern California – Arizona beat No. 5 Stanford 4-1 in Palo Alto on Friday and lost to No. 23 California 3-1 in Berkley on Saturday – the Wildcats were facing a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning to the Golden Bears yesterday and were in danger of ending a once-promising weekend in an upsetting manner.

    After UA outfielder Lauren Schutzler struck out in the fifth inning on what Ray perceived as a “”terrible”” call, the usually mild-mannered coach had a few words with the umpires.

    “”I have never been kicked out of a game when I agreed with a good call,”” Ray said. “”It was a bad call at the wrong time and the kid didn’t swing and the umpire called her for a swing in a crucial time.

    “”I just said it was a terrible call, and that’s all I said, but I got ejected for that and it maybe fired the team up a little bit,”” Ray added. “”If I had to do it all over again I would do it the same exact way.””

    Arizona (25-9, 2-1 Pac-10) responded to its coach’s actions, as the Wildcats eventually went on to score five runs and knock off Cal 5-2, finishing its first Pac-10 weekend over .500.

    Ray’s actions were ones of urgency, as the veteran coach knows how much the difference between a 2-1 and 1-2 record to start the Pac-10 season is.

    “”I told the team before (the finale against Cal) that I thought the loser of the game would end up in the bottom third of the Pac-10,”” Ray said. “”It’s crucial to start off on the right foot.””

    Arizona ace pitcher Taryne Mowatt said Ray’s actions were a big boost to the club, even though in certain situations a coach being ejected can be more of a distraction than a motivation boost.

    “”It definitely helped the team. He was out there fighting for us,”” said Mowatt, who went 2-1 over the weekend. “”The umpires weren’t necessarily calling the game (the way we saw it), so it felt good to see him fighting for us and I am glad we came through.””

    Perhaps the most impressive victory of the weekend for the Wildcats came Friday against the Cardinal, as both timely hitting and solid pitching came together for the perfect package. The victory brought Stanford’s 12-game winning streak to a halt.

    After designated player Stacie Chambers started her first Pac-10 game 0-for-3, she told herself she wasn’t going to finish the game hitless – and she didn’t.

    Stanford’s Missy Penna left a ball up in the zone and Chambers crushed it for a three-run home run to lift the Wildcats.

    “”She got me deep in the count and she just left the ball hanging,”” Chambers said. “”I just swung and hit it, and I didn’t even know where it went.””

    Arizona’s first Pac-10 weekend did anything but lack excitement and competition, something the Wildcats will continue to prepare for as the season progresses.

    “”That is the way the Pac-10 season is,”” Chambers said. “”It’s always a fight.””

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