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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Getting into the swing of things

Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Ernie Somoza
Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat

One last chance to get it right

That’s all the Arizona softball team has before Pacific 10 Conference play begins.

“”This is a crucial weekend for us to get out and play well,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea. “”I think that’s the bottom line of how well we’re playing, not so much the opponent.””

Candrea wants to see the Wildcats focus on themselves (25-3) when they journey to Albuquerque, N.M. this weekend for a three game series against New Mexico. The Lobos (10-16) are familiar opponents for Arizona, who defeated New Mexico 9-3 on Saturday.

Although the Wildcats picked up the win, Candrea was not pleased with the way the Arizona offense sputtered as the game wore on.

“”I think that he was just expecting us to come out with a little bit more fire and a little bit more determination,”” said center fielder Lauren Schutzler. “”I think we kind of looked at our opponent and played down a little bit.””

For Arizona, this weekend will be a chance to regroup and return its regular players to the lineup before it travels to ASU for open conference play.

The Wildcats struggled with injuries last weekend at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.

Freshman first baseman Baillie Kirker bruised her ribs and starting right fielder Karissa Buchanan broke the tip of her finger. Candrea said the status of both players would be evaluated day by day.

“”It gives some other kids some opportunities so they’re game-ready,”” said Candrea.

With the injuries, the Wildcats have had to see the bench step up and take over. Freshman Becca Tikey and sophomore Alicia Banks filled in for Kirker and Buchanan, respectively, but the biggest addition to the Wildcats’ lineup this weekend will be Lini Koria, who did not play last weekend due to the death of her mother.

Koria plays multiple positions around the diamond and gives the Arizona offense consistent offensive power. The sophomore’s return is just one piece of the puzzle Arizona is trying to complete before Pac-10 season starts.

“”I think this is a really important weekend,”” said Schutzler. “”We definitely don’t want to take steps backwards.

“”We should be back full-force for Pac-10. This year we’ve had a really good season, had a really good preseason,”” Schutzler added. “”I think we’re very confident going into Pac-10.””

Instead of emphasizing the record, Candrea has been insistent on the process and making sure the proper plays are executed. Against New Mexico, Arizona needs to make the adjustments and show discipline at the plate, Candrea said.

Ending the non-conference season on a good note is key for the Wildcats, who have posted a 25-3 record this season, the team’s average record over the past 10 years.

This season, the non-conference schedule has been more challenging. Arizona has already faced the current No. 3 team, Michigan, and the current No. 4 team, Missouri, this season.

“”I think it just helps everyone’s confidence and gives us a boost going into Pac-10 having such a good preseason,”” said K’Lee Arredondo.

The way the non-conference season ends could have implications down the road for the Wildcats. Their biggest tests still awaiting them, Arizona has the chance to find a consistent offense and show consistent defensive prowess.

“”We’re just trying to get everything back together,”” Candrea said, “”getting some people back in the lineup. Getting on a roll here before Pac-10 play starts.””

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