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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Offensive woes holding Arizona softball back

Arizona+outfielder+Mandie+Perez+%2855%29+runs+home+at+Hillenbrand+Stadium+on+Friday%2C+March+25.+The+Wildcats+host+New+Mexico+State+for+a+double-header+Wednesday+afternoon.
Darien Bakas
Arizona outfielder Mandie Perez (55) runs home at Hillenbrand Stadium on Friday, March 25. The Wildcats host New Mexico State for a double-header Wednesday afternoon.

Arizona dropped its series to Washington this weekend, winning only the first game. Washington is a top-10 caliber opponent and facing the Huskies on the road was a tough draw for the Wildcats. 

After winning the series’ opening game, it felt as if Arizona had a chance to take that next step forward with a big series victory over the Huskies. 

The offense was explosive in the first game, and with their dominant pitching staff, the offense will be the Wildcats’ key element that determines their succes for the rest of the season. 

However, the offense cooled off in the second and third games and Washington was able to shut down the Wildcats and generate enough runs for two victories. The top of the lineup continues to be the only source of production for the Wildcats offense. 

Freshman Joelle Krist has stepped up and become an everyday starter at first base for Arizona. She has now started 10 games with the bulk coming over the past two weeks. Krist is only 6-28 (.214) this season, but three of her six hits have gone for home runs and have provided much needed power at the bottom of the lineup. 

Starting at the top of the lineup with Mandie Perez (.363), Katiyana Mauga (.326) and Mo Mercado (.378), the Wildcats lineup is as dangerous as any team’s in the Pac-12 Conference. 

Perez and Mercado have remained consistent throughout the year and have combine for 13 homeruns. Mauga continues to be the focal point of the offense, but was slowed this weekend by the Huskies pitching staff. 

The second spot in the lineup has seemingly been awarded to Ashleigh Hughes, who is batting .289 and has improved over the last two weeks. 

When junior Eva Watson makes her full recovery, though, she will likely resume the role. 

The bottom half of the order remains inconsistent. Junior Alexis Dotson is batting .327, but is last on the team in both RBIs and on-base percentage. 

Dotson does follow Mauga and Mercado in the order, so it is possible Dotson could have more RBIs if they didn’t clear the bases before her. 

Dotson needs to get on base at a higher clip to help support the lineup after her.

Krist, Lauren Young, Tamara Statman and Merrilee Miller have a combined average of .234, all following Dotson in the lineup. 

Getting on base is the most important aspect of the bottom half of the lineup. The ability to earn walks and generate runs with the short game could provide a boost to the top half of the lineup and get them more at-bats. 

The pitching continues to dominate as Danielle O’Toole and Taylor McQuillin are in true mid-season form. They are at 2.13 and 2.91 respectively in terms of ERA. Even after a tough weekend in Seattle that saw both pitchers have to leave starts early, the Wildcats will lean on the duo for the rest of the year. 

Consistency from the bottom of their lineup and continued dominance from their pitching staff can get them to Oklahoma City in June. With 20 games to go, the time is now for the Wildcats to find their rhythm. 


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