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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pro/Con: Is the UA softball team too reliant on home runs?

    Pro: ‘Cats will need small ball for title run

    Nicole Dimtsios
    sports writer

    You can live by the home run and you can die by the home run. Most teams would prefer to live by it, and that’s just what the Arizona softball team is doing.

    The Wildcats’ ability to score runs depends on timely home runs from the middle of the lineup.

    So far this season, Arizona has blasted more than 100 balls out of the park. The top two national home run hitters are on the Wildcats’ roster. The overwhelming statistic of the season is Arizona’s ability to hit the long ball.

    When the long ball isn’t flying for the Wildcats, however, wins are hard to come by. When the Wildcats don’t hit a home run in a game, Arizona stands below .500 at 4-5.

    When the Wildcats hit one home run, their record stands at 5-1, but when they hit two or more home runs, their record leaps to an impressive 27-3.

    Softball is a game of small ball – slapping, base hits, and speed are the essentials. For this year’s Arizona team, this has not been the case. Arizona wins by the long ball, which is great – until the law of averages comes into play. The fact of the matter is that a majority of the runs Arizona scores come by home runs. That means as the pitching gets better throughout Pacific 10 Conference play, the number of Arizona home runs should decrease, and the Arizona’s offense will sputter.

    Take the road trip to Washington and UCLA for example. Arizona was held hitless in Washington, only one batter reached base, and the Wildcats dropped the game. The next day against UCLA, Arizona’s bats woke up and blasted two home runs, resulting in a 9-2 victory. The next game – also against the Bruins – Arizona did not string together timely hits, and Jenae Leles’ two-run homer was not enough to give the Wildcats the victory.

    The number of home runs is great – while it lasts. The fact of the matter is that the home run hitting will eventually stop, and small ball is what will have to keep the Arizona offense alive during the remainder of the season.

    Con: Don’t mess with a good thing

    Kevin Zimmerman
    sports writer

    Why shouldn’t Arizona continue to rely on the long ball? The answer is simple – look where it’s got the Wildcats so far.

    They’re leading the nation with a ridiculous 2.33 home runs per game, they have a 36-9 record and are on the verge of running away with the title in a scary Pacific 10 Conference.

    I know that the game comes down to the little things – like defense and base running strategy – but when they’re hitting them out of the park at this rate, the little things are eclipsed by the outright domination.

    It’s obvious the team believes playing in Tucson has a huge role in the number of homers, as the crowd can get behind the players and the dry air and wind can turn pop flies into home runs.

    But I don’t think Jenae Leles’ home run that went to the top row of the left field stands on Friday would be a fly out in a more humid Oklahoma City, the site of the Women’s College World Series. I mean, that shot wouldn’t be anything less than a home run if the game were played during a drizzle in Washington state or a blizzard in Green Bay, Wisc.

    In comparison to past teams, people seem surprised about how little the team scores through its short-hitting game, but I don’t believe for a second that head coach Mike Candrea has simply forgotten to play that way.

    He knows the strengths of this team, and he knows the when stereotypical slap-hitters in Brittany Lastrapes and K’Lee Arredondo are sending them out of the park frequently, there’s no need to hold them back.

    For as many great teams that have played for Candrea, it is no fluke this team is hitting homers at such a high rate, and Candrea is going to give them the green light as long as he thinks it’s the best shot at winning a title.

    Right now, it is the Wildcats’ best shot, and it’s beginning to look like a realistic one.

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