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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball pushes for postseason home field advantage

Hallie Bolonkin/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Softball vs. Stanford on April 18, 2010 noon.
Hallie Bolonkin
Hallie Bolonkin/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs. Stanford on April 18, 2010 noon.

Nearly halfway through Pacific 10 Conference play, the No. 3 Arizona softball team has one thing on their mind — home field advantage.

“”You have to be in control of your own destiny. I’d sure like to be able to finish strong,”” said head coach Mike Candrea.

The Wildcats (35-7, 5-4 Pac-10) host the Oregon State Beavers (22-21, 2-7) for a three game series this weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium. The matchup against Oregon State is only the second conference series at home for Arizona so far this season.

With just four weekends left in conference play including the series with the Beavers, the Wildcats’ main goal is to make a better case to host either regional or super regional play in the postseason.

“”There’s a little motivation there to make sure that we play well down the stretch, we have an opportunity to play in front of our home fans,”” Candrea said.

Though the Wildcats are confident going into this weekend’s play, they have to keep focusing on the big picture.

“”My thought is ‘win every game because I’m not about to be sent away for postseason,'”” center fielder Lauren Schutzler said. “”That’s what we’re working for every game. We’ve got to win every game to do that.””

Although Arizona’s thoughts are on the postseason, Candrea and the Wildcats insist that they won’t look past an average Oregon State team.

“”If we don’t come out here without our game face on, it’s going to be a struggle,”” said senior shortstop K’Lee Arredondo.

While it has lost seven of its last 10 games, Oregon State has managed to steal at least one game in its series with Stanford and Oregon. The Beavers are 3-2 away from Corvallis, Ore. The series at Arizona, however, will be the first conference road test for Oregon State.

Another three-game sweep at Hillenbrand would keep Arizona on pace to make their strongest case for hosting postseason play in years. While the Beavers’ record is just over .500, the Wildcats know that any game in Pac-10 play can go either way.

“”You never know what can happen in the Pac-10,”” Arredondo said. “”(University of) Oregon beating Washington, it kind of puts a spin on things. We’re just trying to keep going.””

“”I think it’s at this stage, and if you’re aware of the Pac-10, you better guard against everyone because they’re all good and they all can play,”” Candrea said. “”And Oregon State is no different. If you look beyond them, you’re in trouble.””

Arizona has the chance to add three more games to its three game winning streak. It hasn’t dropped a game to the Beavers since March 2006, an 11 game winning streak. Especially while at home, the Wildcats need to elevate their level of play.

“”It gives us more to want to beat them even harder — run rule every game,”” Schutzler said.

With just one more home series left at Hillenbrand after this weekend, Arizona’s focus is not on the opponent, but rather on continuing to play consistent softball.

“”We don’t really care who the other team is,”” said Schutzler. “”We’re just going to play Arizona softball.””

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