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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Softball receives top to bottom production

Tanner Clinch

Arizona softball utility player Ashleigh Hughes (28) attempts a bunt during Arizona’s 11-0 victory over Stanford on Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Along with Alexis Dotson, Hughes provided valuable offense for the Wildcats over the weekend.

Plenty of attention has been given to the top of Arizona softball’s batting lineup, and rightfully so.

Behind the leadership of veterans Kellie Fox, Chelsea Goodacre and Hallie Wilson, the Wildcats have had no trouble putting runs on the board all season. That core group is responsible for a good bulk of the production.

But as this past weekend showed, Arizona’s offensive prowess extends beyond those big bats and familiar names.

In the three-game sweep over Stanford, the Wildcats received contributions from practically everyone, including newcomers Ashleigh Hughes and Alexis Dotson, who both hit their first career home run.

While neither player is an everyday starter, their output could be crucial in the weeks ahead when the UA takes on Pac-12 Conference frontrunners UCLA and Oregon, two teams that like to score a lot of runs themselves.

For the Wildcats to maintain pace with the pair of juggernauts, Hughes and Dotson will be counted on to hit the ball like they did against the Stanford pitching staff.

In game one of the series, Hughes, a freshman utility player who has seen time at second base and the outfield, earned her first homer on a solo shot to right. She finished the series 2-4 at the plate.

“She can swing it,” Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea said. “When you don’t play a lot, they don’t get a chance to settle in. When you play this game, you’re developing a database, and sometimes that database gets stopped because you’re not in there every day.”

That same conundrum also applies to Dotson, who, like Hughes, does not see the field every game. The two have each started in roughly one third of Arizona’s games.

For Dotson, the Stanford series finale provided a breakout 3-4 outing at the plate, including a three-run homer. The home run came as a surprise for the slap hitter who strives for contact over power.

Dotson, a Pima College transfer student, said it was her first homer since high school.

“It felt good to get in on the fun a little bit,” Dotson said. “I was, like, ‘Yes, I’m a power hitter, too.’”

No one was happier to watch the ball go out of the park than Candrea, who was “elated” to see the recent work in the cages pay off.

“To me, that’s a real confidence builder for her,” Candrea said. “Looking down the road, she can be an everyday player, but she has to be able to do more than just slap. So to me, she showed me that she can be more than a one-tool player.”

Following the prolific weekend, the Wildcats now rank No. 1 in the NCAA with a .371 batting average and are third nationally with 8.45 runs per game.

Those are the types of gaudy numbers that result from a roster full of strong hitters.

“This whole team is pretty young,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to instill as much as we know about this game before we have to leave. We just want to be the best we can these next few weeks.”


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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