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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Softball analysis: Different routes, same goal”

Softball analysis: Different routes, same goal

The roads traveled to get to the Women’s College World Series championship series could not have been more different for Arizona and UCLA.

UCLA moved into the winners bracket and won the minimum required three games to advance to the championship series. They even got an off-day on Sunday.

Arizona took the long route.

The Wildcats survived elimination for four games over a two-day span. After falling into the losers’ bracket, Arizona bounced back to defeat Hawaii, Tennessee twice on Sunday and knocked of the defending national champions Washington in a do-or-die situation on Saturday. They avoided being eliminated in the WCWS after just two games for the third year in a row.

They became the first team to advance to the championship finals after losing their opening round game since the 1992 Arizona Wildcats did it before eventually falling to UCLA in the national title game.

“”We had to beat some very good teams to get here,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “”Obviously I know how tough it is when you lose the first game to fight back and so this has to go right up there as one of the great moments in Arizona history to give us an opportunity to play for a championship.””

Arizona’s pitcher Kenzie Fowler has made five appearances and has a WCWS high 37 strikeouts. Her ERA currently sits at 2.00 and she has thrown over 450 pitches in five games.

“”Yeah I was tired but who really cares,”” Fowler said. “”Long two days, but it was really fun.””

Fowler has been the backbone of the Arizona team and has fought through a barrage of illegal pitches that have been called against her since arriving in Oklahoma City, Okla.

After being visibly bothered by the illegal pitch count, she has moved on to focus on her game — something that has only gotten stronger as the tournament has moved on.

Both teams have big bats capable of scoring a lot of runs in a hurry, but the most important performance for Arizona will be Fowler’s.

In the regular season matchup between the two teams, Fowler only threw four innings in that series. If she can keep the UCLA bats guessing, Arizona will have time to figure out UCLA senior ace Megan Langenfeld, whose screwball has kept opposing batters guessing for most of the WCWS.

In contrast, Arizona saw Langenfeld in nearly 14 innings in two games.

The Wildcats and Bruins have also used different types of offenses to get them to the championship series.

UCLA has gone yard eight times already in three games while the Wildcats have two homers, both coming in the last game against Tennessee.

Arizona has relied on small ball to propel the offense. Karissa Buchanan, who bats in the ninth spot, and Brittany Lastrapes, the leadoff hitter, have combined to go 19-for-30 with four RBIs, five doubles and 10 runs scored in the WCWS.

Although on paper UCLA and Arizona are have taken opposite routes to get to the championship series, both programs have proven they know how to win and be successful in the national championship series.

“”There’s an advantage of going through what we’ve gone through,”” Candrea said. “”The disadvantage is the innings that you have to play to get to this point.

“”The bottom line is you get to this point and get to this chance to play for a national championship.””

 

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