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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball’s offense explodes

    Softballs offense explodes

    Before this season, Arizona softball interim head coach Larry Ray said the current Wildcats could quite possibly make up one of the better power hitting teams in the school’s history.

    Over the weekend at the Wildcat Invitational at Hillenbrand Stadium, No. 7 Arizona (15-5) showed a glimpse of what Ray was talking about during the first four games.

    After beating both Creighton and La Salle twice – outscoring the two teams 55-3 – it showed exactly what the offense is made of.

    But in the series finale, it seemed like
    Arizona had nothing left in the scoring tank as it fell to Creighton 2-1 to close out the tournament. The loss broke a 13-game Arizona winning streak.

    “”(This weekend’s offensive output) was tremendous,”” Ray said. “”I thought (in the last game) that we were swinging at a lot of bad pitches. …It was a good lesson though, so we are going to have to cut down our swings against decent pitching.””

    In Arizona’s four victories, Arizona won by an enforced run-rule twice, beating La Salle 18-2 and 16-0 Friday and Saturday, respectively, and knocked off Creighton 15-1 Friday evening before eventually losing the tournament finale.

    “”I don’t know if they are going to score double-digit runs against many teams in our conference,”” Ray said, “”but it is nice that we got to use the entire bench and get many kids some playing time.””

    If the Wildcats can take something away from the tournament, besides the pleasure of winning four of five games, it’s that they finally harnessed their capabilities power-wise.

    In the five games of the tournament, Arizona hit 15 home runs, many of them with people on base, which opened up big leads. Backed by 52 total hits, Arizona improved its team batting average from .310 to .326 in the five games, and the 15 long balls tied the 2001 record for most home runs in a tournament.

    Ray said the added power in this year’s lineup may be a combination of both players seeing pitches better and a moderately weaker schedule.

    Possibly the most impressive and surprising, was senior catcher Callista Balko’s power production. After hitting 10 home runs last season, Balko smashed five long balls in the tournament, including a grand slam in Saturday’s game against La Salle to break the game wide-open.

    “”Some weekends you see the ball bigger than others and then the next weekend you aren’t doing so well,”” Balko said. “”It is a roller coaster and you just need to make sure you are staying up the whole time. Luckily I was seeing it well this weekend.””

    Besides Arizona’s opening day loss when it scored five runs against then-No. 3 Northwestern, the Wildcats have scored less than two runs in all of their losses this season.

    Arizona’s pitching stayed in championship form in the tournament, as its only loss came when scoring just one run.

    “”We just didn’t have our hitters hitting well in the last game,”” said freshman pitcher Lindsey Sisk, who has won eight games in a row, including a no-hitter in Saturday’s victory over La Salle. “”The defense has been playing great behind us, so that really helps the pitchers out.””

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