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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Softball hopes to ride newfound chemistry

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Yet another Women’s College World Series appearance made the 2009 season seem successful for the Arizona softball team.

There, a 3-0 loss to No. 1-seed Florida led to a record-setting 14-0 loss against No. 4-seed Alabama. It was the most runs given up in the history of the world series.

“”One of the big things that I found with the last couple years, I don’t feel like we’re that good of a team,”” said head coach Mike Candrea, whose Wildcats had their first official practice Monday. “”We performed at times very well but when it came down, I don’t think there was a lot of trust with one another.

“”If you look at the finals in the world series, you’re going to see things that happen and how kids respond in a positive way, those teams are there for one reason — that’s trying to win that ultimate goal,”” he added. “”I just felt that we’re a little bit selfish.””

This year, Candrea has focused on fixing the team chemistry, and so far, the veterans say it has made a world of difference.

K’Lee Arredondo, a senior shortstop, said the presence of team chemistry has been the biggest difference in this year’s squad, despite the loss of four seniors from last season and an influx of new faces.

“”Chemistry’s a really big part of softball. If you don’t have it, it’s really hard for a team to come together,”” Arredondo said. “”I know not every team is perfect. Even if we don’t go out with a bang … I know we went out giving it everything we had. I am perfectly OK with that as a senior.””

Through a number of bonding activities, including barbeques, a team session with a sports psychologist and going to movies as a team, Arizona has acquired a fresh outlook and is hoping to put last year’s embarrassing loss to Alabama behind it.

But at the same time, the team will use that game as motivation.

“”I’ve never lost 14-0 in my life,”” said junior outfielder Brittany Lastrapes. “”I can handle losing, that’s part of the game. But to be embarrassed like that is just something I never want to feel again. Coach reminds us, we remind each other; we never want to feel that again.””

The leadership from the veterans has kept the newcomers steady. With six freshmen and a junior transfer as the new additions this year, fluidity will be the key to a balanced Wildcat team in 2010.

The older players have confidence in the younger ones, while the younger players said they’ve been accepted with open arms. The entire team believes it’s off to a good start as it begins working toward Arizona’s 22nd Women’s College World Series appearance.

“”I like our experience and I like the energy and the attitude that the new kids bring to our program,”” Candrea said. “”I think it’s shown throughout the fall. I think we’ve accomplished a lot.””

Extra innings

•Catcher Stacie Chambers has been granted a medical redshirt season after missing an entire year with a facial injury. Chambers, who led the NCAA with 31 home runs last season, is now a redshirt junior.

•Outfielder Brittany Lastrapes is listed as an alternate for the USA National Team.

•Senior pitcher Sarah Akamine, who will serve as a backup to freshman phenom Kenzie Fowler, is pitching after sitting out the summer due to back surgery that removed ruptured discs. She also said a recurring shoulder injury — one that she pitched through last season — has healed.

•Candrea laughed at the chance of replacing former Athletic Director Jim Livengood, adding that if he were to run for the position he would have done it “”20 years ago.””

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