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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Ranked opponents loom as UA searches for ‘the fight’

Colin Prenger
Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA softball team defeated the University of New Mexico Lobos Saturday, Oct. 15. The Wildcats beat the Lobos 9-1

The Arizona softball season is officially underway. Last season’s disappointing end in the Super Regionals appears to be out of most players’ and coaches’ minds, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t comparisons to the World Series and eight NCAA championship teams head coach Mike Candrea has been a part of.

Besides basketball, the softball team has arguably been the most successful program in Arizona history. With that pedigree and All-Americans such as Jennie Finch, expectations are always high at Hillenbrand Stadium.

It’s easy to compare the 2012 Wildcats to the 2007 Wildcats, who had a record of 50-14-1 with some of the current team’s players on the roster. Senior Lini Koria said the biggest thing for the success of this team will be getting the experience the championship teams she’s played on had.

“Talent wise, this group is very special,” Koria said. “We have a lot of good underclassmen, and a lot of experience from the senior and junior class who have experienced a World Series.”

The main difference after watching an Arizona softball game now and the championship teams of the past, apart from the players, is “the fight,” according to Koria.

“We’re all used to fighting when our backs are against the wall, but we need to get better at coming out the gate,” Koria said. “Just kind of letting the teams know who we are from the get-go instead of letting the game go on and we finally wake it up.”

The slow starts and a lack of timely hitting have plagued the Wildcats thus far this season, except against weaker competition like Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and Southern Utah. But as the saying goes, “To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.” Arizona has lost to four of the five ranked opponents it has faced this season, with the losses coming by a combined six runs.

“We’re getting closer,” Candrea said. “I’m not totally pleased. I think the sky’s the limit for this team. It’s a matter of how much we progress throughout the year. As long as the focus remains on getting better every week, I think we’ve got a really good chance.”

This weekend, the Wildcats are set to take on the College of Charleston, which most likely will not pose a large threat to Arizona (13-4). But the weekend after that, Arizona travels to Waco, Texas, to face No. 10 Baylor.

Losing any game is difficult to rebound from, but a tough series in Waco followed by the start of Pac-12 play, which includes No. 2 California, No. 4 Washington, No. 5 ASU, No. 11 Stanford, No. 14 UCLA and No. 18 Oregon, means that this Wildcat team will have to pull some fight together sooner rather than later if it wants another year on the massive “Women’s College World Series Appearances” banner that hangs over the batting cages in left field.

“Those little things are things a team has to go through,” Candrea said. “I liked our approach this last week. We played the game without fear and were the aggressor for the most part. You have to take control of what you have control over, and I think we’re starting to do that.”

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