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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball prepares to defend title

    UA pitcher Taryne Mowatt hurls a pitch during the Wildcats 9-1 win over Oregon April 22 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Mowatt, who last week earned Pacific 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors for the fourth time this season, brings a 30-8 record and 1.51 ERA into Arizonas stretch run for a second consecutive national championship.
    UA pitcher Taryne Mowatt hurls a pitch during the Wildcats’ 9-1 win over Oregon April 22 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Mowatt, who last week earned Pacific 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors for the fourth time this season, brings a 30-8 record and 1.51 ERA into Arizona’s stretch run for a second consecutive national championship.

    With the Pacific 10 Conference crown resting comfortably on its head, the No. 5 Arizona softball team concludes regular-season play at home against No. 12 UCLA and No. 13 Washington tomorrow through Saturday.

    The Wildcats (39-10-1, 14-3-1 Pac-10) clinched the Pac-10 title for the fourth time in five years with a sweep of No. 20 Oregon and No. 16 Oregon State over the weekend.

    It is the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Wildcats have won the Pac-10, a feat all the more impressive this season, as every Pac-10 team except California should finish the year ranked in the top 25.

    After the formality of playing the Bruins (34-15, 10-8) and Huskies (34-14, 11-7) to close out their conference slate, the Wildcats will then turn their attention to the postseason and their national title defense.

    The NCAA Regionals, which the Wildcats may host, start May 18. Arizona hosted the regionals last season en route to winning the national championships.

    Senior center fielder Caitlin Lowe has already planned out the rest of the year in her mind.

    “”I think we’re going to finish the Pac-10 strong against Washington and UCLA, and I think that we’re going to do what we did last year and kind of get better progressively throughout the regionals, super regionals and into the World Series,”” Lowe said.

    UA head coach Mike Candrea, who has coached the Wildcats to seven national championships, has grounded goals for a team that has been ranked in the top five for all but one week this season – when it fell to sixth – and has to be considered one of the favorites to win it all again this year.

    “”I’m hoping to see steady improvement,”” Candrea said. “”I want us to be able to play our best softball when it counts. In order to do that we need to do a better job of taking care of business on and off the field.

    “”There’s a lot of little pieces to the puzzle to be able to have great performances, and whether it’s sleep, whether it’s diet or whether it’s preparation, all that becomes crucial this time of year and you’ve got to take care of business or else set yourself up for failure.””

    Hosting the regionals would be an ideal start to the postseason, as Arizona’s record at home this season is 23-1.

    “”Hopefully, we’ll host both a regional and a super regional, and after we win those we’ll go to the World Series and win that, too,”” pitcher Taryne Mowatt said.

    But regardless of where the games are played, the Wildcats are picking up the intensity for a stretch run that has only one acceptable result.

    “”Arizona is the type of program that if you don’t win a national championship people are disappointed with you and you’re disappointed with yourself,”” shortstop Kristie Fox said.

    “”We work for a championship every year, and I think getting one (last season) and tasting victory just makes us want it that much more.””

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