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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Talk it out

Gordon Bates  /Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates /Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea noticed something was wrong.

Coming off a possible season-defining sweep at the hands of the No. 1 Washington Huskies three weeks ago, he had every right to be concerned.

“”I was kind of shocked,”” Candrea said after the Huskies dismantled the Wildcats. “”I’ve never seen one of our teams react that way.

“”Ever.””

His team needed a fix. So when Candrea noticed problems before an April 15 practice, he told the players to talk over their differences in the outfield.

“”There were just a couple things we had to nip in the bud,”” said freshman Kenzie Fowler. “”The Washington losses, it hit us hard as a team. We just need to rebound and us talking was part of us rebounding.””

The Wildcats rebounded in the form of a six-game winning streak.

A swagger and a never-lifting focus kept them one step ahead of anything a competitive Cardinal team threw at them. Then, the Wildcats hardly skipped a beat, showing no regard for politeness in throttling the Beavers to the delight of the home crowd.

It was a positive sign for what Candrea called the yearly “”storm.””

“”If you look at team dynamics, the first thing you do is you form a team,”” he said. “”The second stage that most teams go through is norming — people are either going to abide by the norms, live up to the norms or they fight the norms.

“”What happens most of the time is a situation, after they norm, they storm a little bit.””

And in talking over their differences, the storm has apparently been weathered.

“”Now we’re ready to perform,”” Candrea said.

Form, norm, storm, perform — he didn’t remember where he learned it, but Candrea whittled the shocking reaction to the Washington Huskies down to that cycle.

“”I’m used to walking on the field and being the intimidator, not someone else intimidating us,”” he said. “”It was good. We went through it, we talked about it.

“”I think they understand that the best team’s going to win,”” he added, “”and if you’re not a team, you’re fooling yourselves.””

What did they discuss? It’s a private matter.

Catcher Stacie Chambers did say that it was “”little tiffs that people get into”” that were allowed to fester.

“”It’s all good now,”” she said.

The talk also gave freshmen a chance to speak their mind.

“”I think sometimes younger girls get scared to speak up to the older girls,”” said left fielder Brittany Lastrapes. “”When you’re a freshman you don’t want to step on everyone’s toes. You just keep everything bottled in.

“”It just gave us a chance to clear the air.””

It also put the fun back into their play.

The practices before the Oregon State series, Candrea called the best of the season. And there was more energy and noise coming from the dugout during the weekend games against the Beavers.

No more worrying about the little things — the strikeouts, the bad at-bats. Only positive energy.

Sophomore Lini Koria, who lost her mother earlier in the season, told her teammates that the game they all love should be unifying. In her perspective, it’s not something to stress about.

“”This year, it’s just different for me because of what’s going on, and I just have a different view on things. There’s a lot worse things happening out there,”” she told her teammates.

“”We needed to dig deep in, find that pride in us to bear down and play together as one.””

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