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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball set for battle at Judi Garman Classic

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Sally Lugo

Arizona softball pitcher Michelle Floyd (94) pitches during Arizona’s 8-3 win against UNLV on Wednesday. Floyd and the Wildcats take on several ranked oppenents over the weekend, including No. 1 Florida.

Fresh off a double-header sweep of UNLV on Wednesday, No. 13 Arizona softball heads to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judi Garman Classic over the weekend. Arizona (19-3) will face No. 1 Florida, No. 14 Auburn, Long Beach State, No. 9 Baylor and Fresno State during the Friday through Sunday classic.

Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea said this weekend will be a measuring stick to see how his team has improved from the beginning of the season.

“We need to kind of find out where we’re at,” Candrea said, “because pretty soon, we’re going to be in the Pac-12 [Conference], and every game is a big one.”

The Judi Garman Classic kicks off a season-long stretch of 12 straight road games for the Wildcats. Playing strong during the first portion of those games will be key, as Pac-12 play begins on March 13 on the road against California.

Candrea said despite the team putting on an offensive outburst against UNLV, the competition level this weekend will force the Wildcats to play at a higher level.

“This weekend is going to be definitely a little upgrade [in talent] from what we’ve been seeing,” Candrea said. “We gotta tighten things up defensively. You’ve got to pitch well, you’ve got to hit well, you’ve got to play good defense. There’s no secrets to it.”

So far this season, Arizona is batting .391 as a team, is a perfect 29-29 on stolen base attempts and has racked up 30 home runs. To say the Arizona offense has been dominant may be an understatement. 

Arizona catcher Chelsea Goodacre has been a big reason behind that offensive output, batting .300 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs. Goodacre leads the team in both home runs and RBIs and said it’s fun to play with this kind of offense around her.

Goodacre even referenced Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller, who gave a talk to the Wildcats on Tuesday during their practice.

“[Candrea] had Sean Miller come to talk to us, and he told us that with team success comes individual accolades,” Goodacre said. “I thought that was the biggest thing. So, in any way that I can contribute to my team, that’s the best.”

On the mound, the Wildcats have formed a nice one-two punch with Trish Parks and Michelle Floyd. Parks is 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 52 innings, while Floyd is 8-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 51 innings of work.

Pitching will be key against top-flight programs such as Florida, Baylor and Auburn if the Wildcats are to pull off a couple upsets this weekend.

Floyd said playing travel softball growing up has given her connections to many of the teams Arizona will face at the classic.

“I have friends at all these schools, so that’s one of the fun things,” Floyd said. “[I] get to play against the competition that I’ve grown up playing against. Every time we get to play against each other is so exciting and so much fun.”

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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