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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball dominates Arizona Fall Classic

    Arizona freshman Lini Koria hits the ball into play hit in a 6-0 win over New Mexico on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats went 5-0 in the Arizona Fall Classic this weekend and outscored their opponents 65-3.
    Arizona freshman Lini Koria hits the ball into play hit in a 6-0 win over New Mexico on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats went 5-0 in the Arizona Fall Classic this weekend and outscored their opponents 65-3.

    If offense is the key to success, the Arizona softball team is in great shape.

    In the final tune up of the fall, the UA softball team dominated the Arizona Fall Classic at Hillenbrand Stadium over the weekend, going 5-0 and outscoring its opponents 65-3. Despite the offensive explosion, however, the team knows that this is only a small step in the grand scheme of the season.

    “”This was a great way to start, our offense played very well,”” sophomore outfielder Lauren Schutzler said. “”We can’t get ahead of ourselves, though. We need to stay focused and work on getting better.””

    Arizona scored double-digit runs in three of the five games, and the highlight came in the bottom of the third inning against Central Arizona College on Saturday. In an inning that saw 18 Wildcats dig into the batter’s box, Arizona’s first 10 batters all scored consecutively en route to a 13-run output.

    “”We were seeing the ball really well, swinging at strikes, and not forcing anything. We just felt good as a team,”” said sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes, who was one of the many offensive stars in the tournament, hitting three home runs.

    Senior Sam Banister was also an offensive force throughout the series, with her efforts culminating in a grand slam against Pima Community College on Sunday.

    “”We did a lot of good things this weekend, especially our adjustments at the plate,”” Banister said. “”I thought we played really well.””

    The lineup for the five games changed slightly each time, but the variations all yielded the same results. The nine starters reached base at least once in four of the five games, something that UA head coach Mike Candrea knows is the key to victory.

    “”Singles, extra-base-hits, we’ll take it any way we can, just as long as we’re getting on base,”” Candrea said. “”On-base percentage is the key to this game.””

    One of the most promising elements of the weekend was freshman catcher Lini Koria’s play. The San Pedro (Calif.) High School homerun record holder is in the midst of a seemingly flawless transition from high school to college, catching all five games and batting either third or fourth in the order each time.

    “”The competition in college has kicked in real quick,”” Koria said. “”The game is much faster, and the teams are much better. I’m happy with how I played, but there is always a lot of room to improve.””

    One of the areas where the Wildcats are looking to improve is their defense. After a rusty start in the field on Friday, the team knew they needed to use the rest of the weekend to get their defense in sync.

    “”Obviously, the offense was a bright spot, but defensively we need to get better,”” Candrea said. “”This game is built around pitching, good defense, and timely hitting, and pitching and defense are things that we need to get better at.””

    The Wildcats certainly learned from Friday’s three-error performance – two in the first inning – by committing just one error over the remaining four games.

    “”I think we built more from (Friday),”” Lastrapes said. “”We just need to execute, not change anything, and just make it a bit sharper.””

    In the circle, sophomore Lindsey Sisk started three games and junior Sarah Akamine started the other two. Candrea said he was pleased with what he saw from his pitchers, who are adjusting to life without last year’s ace, Taryne Mowatt.

    “”Good pitchers are the pitchers that can get ahead, because then you can feed the batter what you want,”” Candrea said. “”They got better (over the weekend). I saw our pitchers show the ability to make adjustments. I think overall it was really good to see, and I’m excited about the next couple of months that we have to get them game-ready.””

    With a successful preseason now under their belt, the Wildcats are off for the rest of the semester. The team knows, however, not to rest on its laurels and is determined to improve its game as much as possible before the regular season begins in February.

    “”We need to play the game at a higher level and be more consistent on everything that we do,”” Candrea said.

    And according to Banister, there are some key similarities with this year’s team and the successful teams of the last few years.

    “”Our work ethic is great, everyone is really willing to work hard, and you can see our determination,”” Banister said.

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