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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcat softball kicks off conference slate in Calif.

    Freshman pitcher Lindsey Sisk tosses a pitch in an 11-5 Arizona win over Marshall Wednesday night at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats open up their Pac-10 season tonight at No. 5 Stanford.
    Freshman pitcher Lindsey Sisk tosses a pitch in an 11-5 Arizona win over Marshall Wednesday night at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats open up their Pac-10 season tonight at No. 5 Stanford.

    The No. 10 Arizona softball team can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a lot of darkness to pass through before possibly reaching the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

    After the doubleheader sweep over Marshall Wednesday night at Hillenbrand Stadium, Arizona concluded its tougher-than-usual nonconference slate with focus still maintained on a Pacific 10 Conference title and a WCWS.

    But the games in Pac-10 play won’t get any easier.

    Conference play begins tonight for the Wildcats (23-8) when they square off against No. 5 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., then turn around and play California in Berkeley, Calif., tomorrow and Sunday.

    “”The easy part of the season is over now and we have got the Pac-10 season, which is going to be extremely difficult,”” said interim head coach Larry Ray. “”This team has shown me some tremendous highs and some tremendous lows. They can be as good as they want to be.

    “”It’s just a matter of them making up their mind and saying, ‘We want to be good,'”” he added. “”When we are good, we are awfully good and when we are bad we are awfully bad.””

    Such is true with an Arizona team that relies tremendously on young players still adjusting to the Division I level, while others are fine-tuning their skills to be an everyday player.

    Thus far, however,

    It is just a matter of them making up their mind and saying, ‘We want to be good.’ When we are good, we are are awfully good.

    – Larry Ray
    interim head coach

    newcomers like freshman outfielders Brittany Lastrapes and Lauren Schutzler, sophomore designated player/catcher Stacie Chambers and pitcher Lindsey Sisk have held up their end of the bargain, leading Arizona in vital statistical categories.

    Perhaps the most impressive has been Sisk, who has done a more than adequate job as secondary pitcher to ace Taryne Mowatt. Sisk has accounted for 10 wins already this season, eclipsing Mowatt’s record of seven from her freshman year.

    Chambers has also been quite the pleasant surprise, lending a powerful and reliable bat in the middle of Arizona’s order, as she leads the Wildcats in RBIs with 31, while adding 10 home runs.

    “”As long as we are being aggressive and swinging the bat, good things are always going to happen,”” said Chambers, who is playing her first full year after sitting out last year with a head injury. “”(Whether in conference play or non-conference play) we still need to be aggressive. If you aren’t aggressive you aren’t going to hit.””

    Even in the face of the youngster’s success, there is no doubting the weight they carry on the team, and will be particularly needed in conference play.

    “”A young team is going to make adjustments a little slower and that is when we look for our upperclassmen to give a little leadership,”” Ray said. “”But just because they are freshman doesn’t mean that they haven’t played a high level of ball, and we expect them to do that.””

    The Pac-10 is arguably the toughest conference in Division I softball, as four of the conference’s eight teams are ranked in the top 10. ASU is currently the nation’s No. 1 squad, followed by No. 4 UCLA and No. 5 Stanford.

    “”I think we just need to keep playing our game and playing a full seven innings with intensity,”” said third baseman Janae Leles. “”And just staying strong and knowing we are the best and no one can beat us.””

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