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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball faces sinking Stanford

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Jesus Barrera

Arizona softball pitcher Michelle Floyd (94) pitches during Arizona’s 18-10 win against Washington at Hillenbrand Stadium on April 12. Floyd and the Wildcats take on Stanford in a three-game series this weekend. 

Arizona softball returns home this weekend to face Stanford in a three-game series beginning Friday evening.

The No. 19 Wildcats are coming off a disappointing road trip to Utah in which they lost two out of three games. They now sit at 9-6 in Pac-12 Conference play and likely need a sweep in order to stay in the hunt for a conference championship. 

A series with Stanford may be what Arizona needs to get back on track, as the Cardinal sits last in the Pac-12 with a 1-14 conference record.

To make matters worse for the opposition, the San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday that three Stanford seniors quit the team last weekend. One of the seniors, Hanna Winter, was second on the team with a .386 batting average. 

“I’m not close to that program and don’t really know what’s going on,” Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea said. “I’m just worried about this one right now and getting ourselves focused.”

While the Wildcats have consistently been one of the best hitting teams in the nation, they struggled to put runs on the board against Utah. Arizona is also still trying to figure out its pitching situation. All three UA pitchers took the mound in each game of the Utah series.

“The challenge of this game is to try to make sure you’re hitting on all cylinders,” Candrea said. “Playing good defense, getting good pitching and getting some timely hitting. When you don’t do that, anything can happen.”

As long as the Wildcats receive their typical offensive production at the plate, they should be in decent shape against the Cardinal. 

Four Arizona players are batting .380 or higher, with Kellie Fox leading the way with a .404 mark. 

The UA has also capitalized off the long ball by averaging more than one home run per game, which ranks in the top 10 nationally. Katiyana Mauga remains the team leader in homers with 20. 

Facing a Stanford pitching staff that ranks last in the Pac-12 with a 6.42 ERA, the Wildcats should put up no shortage of runs. 

On the mound, the Wildcats will likely once again turn to all three of their pitchers. Michelle Floyd leads the group with a 3.26 ERA, while Trish Parks is at 4.23. 

Siera Phillips is the third choice, as she has made just one career start heading into the weekend but has seen her workload go up in recent weeks. 

On paper, the Cardinal shouldn’t give Arizona much trouble, as it also ranks last in the conference in batting average at .285. With the departures of the three seniors, Stanford’s lineup is even more depleted. 

However, Candrea expressed that the Cardinal, like any team, can cause trouble.

“Stanford is a team that swings the bats,” Candrea said. “They’re used to playing from behind, so I’m expecting a very challenging weekend. My emphasis right now is on what we’re doing.”

Opening pitch on Friday is set for 6 p.m., and the series continues Saturday and Sunday. 

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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