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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Grounding the Wildcats

    Grounding the Wildcats

    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Last season, the Arizona Wildcats came into the Women’s College World Series as the nation’s top home run hitting team, relying on the long ball to propel them through the NCAA tournament.

    The 2009 Wildcats were promptly eliminated after losing the first two games in the tournament and were shutout in the WCWS for the second straight year.

    The plan to rely on the long ball obviously didn’t work.

    In 2010, facing elimination, the Wildcats finally found a way to break through in Oklahoma City, Okla., — the ground game.

    And it’s coming from an unlikely spot in the order.

    Arizona right fielder Karissa Buchanan, who hits in the ninth spot in the lineup, has been the spark the Wildcats needed to finally get on the scoreboard during an elimination game against the defending national champion Washington Huskies.

    “”Karissa got us going I think every time we scored,”” shortstop K’Lee Arredondo said after the game. “”We just put the ball in play and good things happened.””

    Buchanan had a single and a walk, and scored two of Arizona’s four runs against Lawrie. Her single in the first was the beginning of a rally that would score two runs in the third inning against Washington and her walk would be the Wildcats’ third run to score.

    Following Buchanan’s lead, Arizona pounded the ball into the dirt and saw success against two-time national Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie, who had shut down the Wildcat offense during three previous meetings in Pacific 10 Conference play.

    “”I told the kids that we have to make the ground our friend,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “”You’re not going to sit in there and swing away and expect to do much against (Lawrie). You have to make things happen.””

    Buchanan has been the one to make it happen in this years WCWS for the Wildcats. Arizona’s reacquaintance with the short game has been profitable, allowing the Wildcats to get runners on base and threaten big innings.

    Buchanan’s placement at ninth in the lineup is something that Candrea purposely does to take advantage of her ability to get on base. The speedy Tucson, Ariz., native is batting .385 on the season.

    “”Buchanan has come up big,”” Candrea said. “”She’s like a leadoff hitter. She’s started a couple rallies today and has really been one of our hot hitters during the Pac-10 season.””

    Her ability to extend innings allowed the Wildcats to turn over the lineup essentially gives Candrea four straight hitters with speed and the ability to be multi-dimensional with Buchanan, juniors Brittany Lastrapes and Lauren Schutzler and senior K’Lee Arredondo.

    The short game has forced opponents to make defensive errors — Arizona’s opponents had eight combined errors on elimination Saturday and score the runs that have been missing from the Wildcats’ WCWS showings for two years.

    The run production is something Arizona is going to need to stay alive as they again face elimination in the rematch of the opening round game with the Tennessee Lady Volunteers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time.

    “”Karissa really did get us going and you saw the short game had a little effect,”” Candrea said. “”If you put a ball in play I think your offense has a chance of producing some runs.””

     

     

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