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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bat controversy hits ‘Cats

    Arizona’s offensive surge has been unmatched this season thanks in large part to the number of home runs they have blasted. The Wildcats lead the nation in batting average, home runs, scoring and slugging percentage.

    Leading Arizona State by 48 home runs in the race for home run lead and breaking the single season home run record of 126, Arizona is putting up major numbers. They now have 134 bombs on the year.

    With a team slugging percentage of 0.642 and nearly 8.2 runs crossing the plate per game, the Wildcats have made their season’s success on their ability to score more runs than their opponents.

    As of late, their accomplishments have been questioned due to their use of their so-called ‘magic’ Nike bats.

    “”A lot of people think that because we have this mysterious Nike bat that we’re cheaters,”” said first basemen Sam Banister. “”Honestly, we come out here and work everyday.””

    The Wildcats are one of the first teams to utilize the Nike line of products, who have worked with Arizona to develop their bats. They also helped the athletic supply company develop other equipment for future use.

    With Arizona’s offense shattering records, fans and programs around the nation are questioning the impact of the bats and their legality. The standout differences include the number of home runs, but also the number of foul balls and the sound the ball make as they are hit off the bat.

    Head coach Mike Candrea and the Arizona team has defended the use of the bats and their relationship with the athletics supplier.

    “”Nike is a very reputable company, and the bats were tested after the college world series and they’re legal,”” Candrea said. “”They’re a good product. Fortunately for us, (Nike) came after us.””

    The NCAA has not brought an official inquiry against the Wildcats or Nike, and league officials have officially authorized the bats. Still, rumors are floating around that the bats are the reason for Arizona’s success and has become a distraction for players during the upcoming Women’s College World Series.

    “”You can’t really let that get to you,”” the senior Banister said. “”That’s just one more thing to worry about instead of being focused on winning a national championship.””

    The players and coaching staff have been focused on emphasizing the athletes, not their equipment.

    The Wildcat offense has made the journey through the post season with timely hits and launching home runs. Although the long ball has been the key success point for Arizona this season, other options have emerged lately.

    Against Stanford in the Super Regionals, the Wildcats adopted a new mantra.

    “”It’s not the bats, it’s the cats,'”” Banister said.

    The slogan, developed by outfielder Lauren Schutzler, helped the Wildcats focus during their play in Palo Alto, Calif. It was their ability to game the big plays in key moments that advanced them to their 21st appearance in Oklahoma City.

    As WCWS play begins Thursday night for Arizona, they’re focusing on remaining consistent, not on the rumor mill.

    Said Banister: “”It’s just us going out there to prove something to people who didn’t think we’d get through Regionals and then definitely counted us out for Supers.””

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