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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Freshman ready for spotlight

Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Softball vs Utah State
Ginny Polin
Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs Utah State

Shelby Babcock is a freshman pitcher for the UA softball team, but she has been a Wildcat for years.

Babcock committed to Arizona all the way back in her junior year of high school at Legacy High School in Broomfield, Colo., and had an impressive list of high school accomplishments: four consecutive all-region, all-district, all-conference and all-state teams. Babcock was named Colorado’s Gatorade Player of the Year and Sportswoman of the Year in her junior and senior years. She set school records in most state titles, wins, strikeouts, ERA and home runs.

With such an impressive resume, there may have been an expectation of a seamless transition for Babcock from high school to the collegiate game. But like the other 38,056 students at the UA, she has experienced some hiccups in the transition.

Against Oklahoma in the Wildcats’ first tournament of the season, Babcock was charged with 10 runs and Arizona fell to the Sooners 11-1. The game was a wake-up call to Babcock and the rest of the team.

She also allowed four runs in an 8-0 beating at the hands of the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs.

Head coach Mike Candrea said he’s not surprised by Babcock’s early struggles.

“”Every freshman that comes into this program will struggle a little bit and take some time,”” Candrea said. “”The one thing that you lose very quickly is your confidence, and it’s not because of anything other than that you’re moving to the next level.””

Recently, however, Babcock has shown signs of adjusting to that next level. She pitched well in last weekend’s Judi Garman Classic, picking up two wins during the weekend. In the Wildcat Invitational, she gave up just four runs in 17 innings of work, including a four-hit shutout of UC Riverside in the Wildcats’ final game of the tournament.

Arizona’s pitching coach Teresa Wilson said Babcock’s attitude and drive during practice and the early part of the season have given her the opportunity to grow as a pitcher.

“”Babcock’s a great kid,”” Wilson said, “”and I think her biggest plus is she just looks at you and says, ‘Tell me what to do.’ She’s very open. She wants to learn, she wants to be the best.””

There have been some adjustments to Babock’s game since she arrived at Arizona. Wilson said Babcock needs to throw more off-speed pitches and improve her control.

“”She’s got a lot of tools, but like with a lot of young pitchers her age, where they’ve come through being power pitchers and throwing hard, that’s what they go to,”” Wilson said. “”It’s the thing they always fall back on, and at this conference and this level, there’s probably nobody in the country who can just flat overpower you.

“”Everybody has to learn to make the pitches break, everybody has to learn to change speeds.””

The changes have been one part of Babcock’s step up to the college level. She began her Wildcats career with high expectations, and while there may have been a speed bump or two along the way, Babcock appears to be moving in the right direction.

“”I’m not going to say it’s been easy, because it hasn’t been.”” Babcock said of her transition. “”Going from high school to college, you change a lot, because you’re competing at a higher level, so things were stressful at first, but I’m finally getting comfortable. I’m feeling good.””

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