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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona softball looks to continue win streak at Wildcat Invitational

Ana Beltran
Arizona pitcher Mariah Lopez (42) talks with her teammate and assistant coach Taryne Mowatt-McKinney at the start of the a new inning.

The Arizona Wildcats will be back at Hillenbrand this weekend to host the Wildcat Invitational. The Wildcats will be looking to continue their win streak after having a successful 5-0 weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which resulted in the team moving from a No. 7 spot nationally to No. 4. In particular, the Wildcats were able to defeat the Alabama Tide not just once, but twice in their first two wins by a one-run margin. In the second match against the Tide, the Wildcats were able to overcome a two-run deficit in the seventh with two outs after a three-run home run by Malia Martinez to complete the sweep against Alabama.

“I liked the grit of how we played,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “I really liked the way that we competed. You know, we talked about everyone accepting their roles and doing what they need to. I thought it was a team victory this weekend.”

Senior Mariah Lopez, who recorded a total of 23 strikeouts in her three appearances at the Easton Crimson Classic, knew that the Wildcats had what it took to come back in the seventh.

“We have the tools … to be successful,” Lopez said. “It was just a fun game, to be honest. [The comeback win showed] that we have the grit to fight.”

While Arizona softball gave a strong performance over the weekend, coach Candrea still found some offensive concerns that the team will focus on before the upcoming weekend.

“Just being impatient and not understanding that you got three strikes, you got three chances,” Candrea said. “I think sometimes we just kind of rush into that and we start swinging at balls that I think if we had a little more patience, we’d get a better pitch to drive. But that’s … something that we’ll continue to work on.”

The team will also work on improving their plate approaches this week. Candrea felt the team has been more anxious rather than aggressive at the plate.

“We just need better pitch selection,” he said. “We need to have a better plan and be able to stick to that plan.” 

One bat that has remained solid is senior Jessie Harper. Over the weekend, Harper collected seven hits, nine RBIs and two home runs to add to her home run total of seven on the season. Last season, Harper led the NCAA in home runs with her career-high of 29. To put that into perspective, Harper is now 22 home runs shy of the NCAA all-time home run record, putting her in the running to become the home run champion this year.

Despite the chance of Harper going into NCAA softball history, she is mainly focused on helping the team reach the final stage.

“All I really care about is winning at this point,” Harper said. “I wanna win with the team, go out and have quality at-bats and just play our game here. Forget the home run record, I just wanna make it to the World Series and play the last game. That’s how I’d like the end my career.”

The action for the Wildcats will begin this Friday night when they take on South Dakota at 5:30 p.m.

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