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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball hits road to open Pac-12 play

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Sally Lugo

Arizona softball utility Hallie Wilson (5) gets a hit during Arizona’s 8-3 win against UNLV at Hillenbrand Stadium on March 4. Wilson and the Wildcats take on California on the road to open up Pac-12 Conference play.

In a quest to reverse a recent stretch of poor play, No. 18 Arizona softball hits the road for a three-game series against California to open up Pac-12 Conference play. The Wildcats went 2-3 at the Judi Garman Classic last weekend and have been working in practice this week to change their losing ways. 

Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea tore into his players before practice on Tuesday in an effort to motivate the team. Candrea emphasized accountability and playing as a team rather than individuals. 

“We’ve talked about a lot of things and things we really need to fix,” Arizona outfielder Eva Watson said. “I guess our mindset right now is really looking at yourself and deciding what you can do best to help out the team and help out the program. I mean, it’s a team effort, … but we really need to look at ourselves.” 

While it may seem like the sky is falling, Arizona is 21-6 so far this season and still ranked in the top 20 nationally. The Wildcats were 20-6 when they lost their sixth game last season, which actually puts this year’s team nearly at pace with last year’s team, which ended 44-16. 

“I think in the scheme of things, we’re doing good,” Arizona utility player Hallie Wilson said. “That’s what’s hard to really get into people’s heads. Nothing’s broken, we don’t need to be fixed. We’re okay.” 

With senior leadership like Wilson leading the way, Arizona has a great chance to bounce back against the Golden Bears. Cal is the latest ranked team the Wildcats will face away from home, coming in at No. 11 in the nation. 

The Golden Bears are 21-1 this season, with the only loss being a 3-1 contest against a solid South Carolina squad. Cal is led by a pair of senior mashers: infielder Danielle Henderson and utility player Cheyenne Cordes. 

Henderson is third on the team with a .443 batting average and is tied for the team lead in home runs with Cordes at five. Cordes is fourth on the team with a .389 batting average and leads the team in RBIs with 31. 

Cal is led by a trio of right-handed pitchers on the mound: sophomores Katie Sutherland-Finch and Stephanie Trzcinski and junior Nisa Ontiveros. They combine for an ERA of 1.90, 93 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .230. 

Combatting that level of talent both offensively and on the mound will not be an easy task for the Wildcats, but rather a task at which the team flourishes. 

“It’s so exciting,” Wilson said. “That’s the best thing about coming off a long, tough weekend, is that we right away have another chance to redeem ourselves and do what we know how to do. We get to start off with a great competitive team [in] Cal, and we’re ready to show them what we can do.” 

Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, noon on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. The three-game series is the first of seven consecutive road games for the Wildcats. 

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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