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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pitchers solidifying roles

    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Colin Darland
    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

    Putting together its A-game on offense and defense are the keys for head coach Mike Candrea’s Wildcat softball team.

    To go all the way, it’s a must.

    The Wildcats were fairly consistent throughout the weekend on defense, and to a certain extent, inside the circle as well. Arizona gave up an average of two runs per game against the second- and third-ranked teams in the nation and recorded their first Pacific 10 Conference shutout.

    “”You’ve got to be able to match them pitch for pitch,”” Candrea said after a 2-1 loss against UCLA on Friday night. “”I thought Sarah (Akamine) did a good job for a while there.””

    Akamine (17-5) has steadily dropped her ERA to 2.52 on the season despite having recurring shoulder soreness. While her role has been more clearly defined as being the No. 1 pitcher, Candrea is going to make sure she doesn’t burn out.

    Lindsey Sisk (11-3) saw her first action since early this month on Saturday, giving Akamine a day off in-between two starts. Sisk gave up 11 hits to the Huskies in seven innings, but fought enough to only allow four runs.

    That’s enough to give her team a chance to win, but the bats couldn’t produce against Washington’s ace pitcher Danielle Lawrie.

    “”I saw some good innings out of (Sisk),”” Candrea said. “”It’s a matter of you’ve got to have good innings all the time.””

    Sisk has possibly given Candrea enough confidence to throw her into more mid-weekend games, keeping Akamine rested and her shoulder from being overworked.

    The third angle to the pitching circus is walk-on Jennifer Martinez, who is back in a closing role for the Wildcats. Martinez (9-3) relieved Akamine in her two games this past weekend, giving up just one hit to eight batters faced.

    An emotional Senior Day

    Candrea always wants his players to play with emotional stability, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen on Senior Day.

    With the game firmly in hand, Candrea gave all of his seniors a piece of the action.

    He gave pinch running duties to an atypical pinch runner, senior Laine Roth, then redshirt senior Martinez threw to senior backup catcher Mandy Monge and senior outfielder Jill Malina got a rare at-bat.

    And even before the game ended, emotions were running high.

    “”I was looking at (senior) Jenae (Leles) hoping, ‘Oh God, please don’t throw it to me, because I can’t see at all,'”” said senior utility player Sam Banister. “”My eyes are all blurry, I was crying already.””

    When the game was over, players and their families reminisced on the field with each other and their coaches.

    “”You spend four years with kids and as you get older, you realize how quickly time goes by,”” Candrea said. “”That was one of the reasons I retired from international softball, because the last eight years of my life went by so quick.

    “”The one thing that I always get emotional about, the good part of it, is because I don’t look at them for being a part of my life for four years,”” he said of his seniors. “”It’s for life.””

    Injury update

    At times, the UA softball team looks more like a mummification project more than a sports team.

    Shortstop K’Lee Arredondo has one arm bandaged and wrapped from wrist to elbow. Outfielder Brittany Lastrapes has been wearing a boot when she’s not in action, a precautionary measure for a stress fracture she’s had most of the year.

    But All-American first baseman Roth has suffered through a wrist injury and a batting average just over .200 throughout the season. She was shut down a few weeks ago and returned in Friday’s game, where she recorded no hits. One swing showed the seriousness of her injury, as she lost control of the bat and sent it flying towards freshman Lini Koria, who was in the on-deck circle.

    “”Right now, the status of Laine is she’s got a tear,”” Candrea said. “”We’re probably going to give her one more cortisone shot and see if we can get through the season and maybe use her in a pinch hitting role.””

    The loss is perhaps the most damaging blow to the Wildcats, who could use the senior All-American during the post season instead of relying on three untested freshman starters.

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