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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Injury-riddled pitching crew optimistic

Rodney Haas/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rodney Haas
Rodney Haas/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Following a week that saw freshman ace Kenzie Fowler sit out with a knee injury and rain muddy the Hillenbrand Stadium playing field enough to cancel three games, the Arizona softball team will likely — weather permitting — play six home games in four days, beginning tonight with a 5 p.m. contest with Saint John’s University.

Fowler, who tweaked her knee during warm-ups last Thursday against Northern Iowa, is day-to-day according to UA head coach Mike Candrea.

“”It’s gotten better each day,”” Fowler said. “”I think I’ve given it as much rest as I can.

“”We were kind of unsure what happened (to the knee),”” she added. “”Obviously it was painful. We just wanted to be smart.””

Arizona will also play the University of Northern Colorado and University of Illinois at Chicago on Friday, St. John’s and Creighton University on Saturday and the University of Minnesota on Sunday. If she can play ball, Fowler (11-0) will likely split time with senior pitcher Sarah Akamine, who took over for the freshman during her injury.

Improving her record to 5-1, Akamine took a line drive in the knee Sunday, causing it to swell. She said she’ll be ready to pitch.

“”It looks worse than it is. It looks gross,”” she said, adding that the swelling is causing pressure around her knee.

Aiding the injury-riddled pitching staff will be Arizona’s offense, which Candrea would like to see get on the board in the first and second innings rather than waiting until the second time around the battling order.

“”I think we’ve had a lot of games where we have not made adjustments,”” he said. “”Against good teams you have to take advantage of every inning. We’d like to jump-start ourselves a little better.””

Young blood aiding Wildcats

On the offensive side of the ball, the Wildcats have relied upon the bat of freshman Brigette Del Ponte, who has knocked in a home run in four straight games. She is tied for the team lead with six home runs — freshman Baillie Kirker and sophomore Lini Koria also have six jacks.

The freshmen on the team have hit 13 of the Wildcats’ 30 total home runs on the season, the most of any class.

“”I don’t even know what to say about them,”” said catcher Stacie Chambers. “”Obviously they have natural talent.

“”They’re out here working really hard at it,”” she added. “”I guess it’s really not much of a surprise.””

Candrea said Del Ponte has taken advantage of her at-bats and also her opportunity on defense after fellow freshman and third baseman Matte Haack was limited due to an illness.

“”I think Matte has struggled a little bit defensively because she’s never played the corner,”” Candrea said. “”When you take a kid that’s used to playing away from the ball (so) close to the ball, the game gets a little quick, a little tough.

“”Brigette (Del Ponte) has played (third base before),”” he added. “”She has obviously settled in a little easier. I think both of them are going to be big assets for us.””

Out of the strike zone

Behind the hoopla home run hitting of Arizona’s youngsters, Chambers, the 2009 NCAA home run leader, has quietly hit four despite seeing a limited number of a hittable balls.

Out of 38 at-bats, the redshirt junior has been walked 21 times.

“”It makes me work on taking advantages of those good pitches that I do get,”” Chambers said, adding that she isn’t bothered by the lack of opportunity to get close to her NCAA record number of long balls.

“”To me, they’re just numbers.””

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