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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Adjustments key for softball’s bats

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs San Diego State University

Softball can require as much pre-game analysis as any other sport.

Between different metrics and stats measuring performance, there are dozens of ways to look at any matchup. Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea chooses to go a simpler route.

“Hitting is a numbers game. The best pitchers get hit three out of 10 times — seven out of 10 times you’re going to fail,” Candrea said. “It’s a game of numbers and averages throughout the year, the biggest thing is to stay off the roller coaster. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.”

Arizona has been working on remaining consistent on the plate while adjusting to the tendencies of some of the top pitchers in the country, like those from Stanford and ASU.

As the season progresses, several Wildcat hitters have emerged as go-to players when things are going rough.

Shelby Pendley leads the team with 12 home runs on the season. Pendley has consistently battled with pitchers. She saw 26 pitches from Stanford ace Teagan Gerhart in just three at bats.

Brigette Del Ponte is tied with Pendley for the highest RBI total on the team at 35, and Candrea said she’s been a key cog as the Wildcat offense heats up.

“Del Ponte will come in games and carry us, and that’s what it takes,” Candrea said. “I think the big thing that you see with us is we have some freshmen in the lineup that maybe haven’t seen some of this good movement and so Friday nights can sometimes be more of a learning experience and gathering some information.”

As players are beginning to develop at the plate, Candrea says the lineup will begin to speak for itself.

“My big thing is, don’t make the same mistake on Saturday and Sunday,” Candrea said, “We have to learn to make adjustments, and then as we mature and we have a broader database, then we can make those adjustments more quickly.”

Hallie Wilson, Chelsea Suitos and Lini Koria are also key parts of the Arizona offense. A unique factor in the Wildcat lineup is a different player seems to show up each game.

“One person can’t carry all the time,” Candrea said. “It has to be someone different every time and lately that’s what has been happening to us, and that’s a good thing.”

The Wildcats still show room for improvement as the numbers tend to rise as Arizona’s confidence does. With each opponent putting a different talent on the mound, the hitters need to be ready to expect anything and work on adjusting their strike zone with the umpire’s.

“We are still giving away a lot of at-bats,” assistant coach Larry Ray said. “You can’t expect to get a hit four out of five times so they’re going to have to just battle a little more.”

Hitting is a mentally and physically trying process. This season has shown just how important it is. With the snap of the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, Arizona will need to be ready to battle for hits in order to give the team a chance in conference.

“Ninety percent of this game is playing with your head and trying to keep the player’s head’s healthy,” Candrea said. “If you walk up there without a plan, you’re giving in to the pitcher.”

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