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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA softball set to host tourney

    UA softball set to host tourney

    For the first time this season, Arizona softball can play in front of its raucous Hillenbrand Stadium home crowd, which has led the nation in fan attendance for the past three years.

    The Wildcats (7-2) will face the Utah Utes (7-3) and the North Dakota State Bison (5-0) three times each, starting today at 4 p.m. at the Wildcat Invitational.

    “”We want to come out here and play a perfect game of softball,”” said utility player Sam Banister. “”Our main goal is to keep making adjustments – just like we did last weekend – at the plate, in the field and on the mound.””

    The do-it-all Banister and her teammates will face two teams which, like the Wildcats, are rolling. Utah is on a four-game winning streak while the Bison come in with a nine-game streak dating back to last year.

    Arizona is coming off a five-game sweep and has already shown improvement two weeks into the season.

    Such improvements have been throughout the roster, but again, all eyes lie upon the pitching duo of sophomore Lindsey Sisk (3-2) and junior Sarah Akamine (4-0). Sisk was the big-name starter coming into the season, but lost her first two games, while Akamine won her first two.

    But a wake-up call of sorts ignited the Arizona bats to produce an eight-run-per-game average in five games last weekend. That allowed Sisk to pick up three wins to again fool onlookers who were ready to name Akamine the No. 1 option.

    However, their season numbers show they are virtually equal, simultaneously linking the two pitchers into a single entity.

    “”We definitely improved,”” Akamine said. “”We have a lot of work to do, but we’ve made some steps forward and that’s what counts. All of us have to work on bringing our bullpen work into game situations, and once we do that we’ll be fine.””

    Arizona opens the invitational against the Bison, which in addition to Summit League Pitcher of the Week Andi Padilla, have outfielder Katie Matthews, the Summit League Player of the Week.

    Padilla pitched and won in four games last weekend, finishing with an ERA of just 0.42. Meanwhile, Matthews connected on 7-of-13 at-bats during the same span.

    The Bison will try to match swings with Arizona at 4 p.m. today, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday. The other three games, all against Utah, will take place today at 6:30 p.m., 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

    Shortstop K’Lee Arredondo is a game-time decision for the first contest as she continues to recover from a pulled hamstring she suffered during Friday’s game against USF.

    Against Utes’ pitcher Ashley Smuda of Scottsdale, Ariz., the Wildcats will try to avoid what happened their last time competing against an Arizona-bred pitcher. Arizona lost to Kansas and Sabino High School graduate Valerie George in their opening tournament at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe.

    Smuda and freshman infielder Whitney Holm both won the Mountain West Pitcher of the Week and Player of the Week awards, respectively. Holm garnered the award while knocking in seven RBIs and two home runs in a five game span.

    Asked how the Wildcats will carry the momentum of their winning streak into the present, catcher Stacie Chambers put it bluntly.

    “”We just got to play every week,”” she said. “”We can’t live in the past.””

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