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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Saying goodbye

    As the year winds down for college students, it also means the end of the season for Arizona softball. With just three weeks of regular season play left, a realization for six members of the team is coming quickly: their reign as Wildcat seniors is coming to an end.

    This weekend marks the end of home games for the Wildcats, and senior night will take place on Sunday, April 26 when Arizona takes on Washington at noon.

    “”I think it’s crazy that it’s already here,”” said first baseman Laine Roth. “”It’s hard, it’s one of those things I’ve worked so long for all my life and all of a sudden it’s over now.””

    Roth and three other seniors – Sam Banister, Jenae Leles and Jill Malina – have spent four years at Arizona practicing, playing and chasing the dream of a national softball championship. And they have succeeded in winning two national titles. Two other seniors joined the Wildcats’ roster later in the game, but have still become part of the talented senior class.

    Walk-on catcher Mandy Monge joined the team in 2008. Pitcher Jennifer Martinez, a 2007 transfer from Cal-State Dominguez Hills, has made her mark on the Arizona pitching scene, providing relief in the circle and even starting crucial road games. Their efforts in practice and in games for the Wildcats have impressed everyone on the team, and have allowed them to mesh with the rest of the team.

    “”Mandy has only been here one year and Jen two years, but they’ve clicked so well,”” said Malina. “”They work very hard so it’s easy to accept them on our team.””

    Although the season is not over and Arizona has a long road to get through the rest of Pacific 10 Conference play, the seniors are contemplating what will happen when the season comes to an end.

    “”Hopefully, I can say I contributed to the new national championship,”” Roth said. “”Just for the younger girls to see how we’ve done things and hopefully they carry that tradition on when it’s their senior year.””

    For their part, the class of 2009 has certainly left a mark on Arizona softball history. Two national championships, a national team selection camp invitation for Leles and the respect of the underclassmen are all part of the legacy the seniors will leave for this and future Wildcat teams.

    “”You come in here like a lot of people think this is nothing, you come in and play softball, but there’s a lot more to it that you don’t see,”” Roth said.

    The intangibles that the seniors provide are all valuable to younger players. The leadership that veteran players show can be helpful in a game situation or even off the field. The traditions and energy are essentials that the seniors try to pass on.

    “”I think I’m leaving a positive attitude and energy. I really take a lot of time trying to be that positive role model for the underclassmen,”” said Malina.

    When asked about their favorite memories at Arizona, the seniors all had something in common – head coach Mike Candrea.

    “”Everything,”” Roth said. “”Tradition, coach Candrea is by far the best coach ever.””

    Candrea, as in past years, had a profound impact on his players and the way they conduct themselves as part of the Arizona softball program. Through his coaching techniques, veteran players have learned not only to become part of a team, but also to become leaders off the field.

    The tradition of Wildcat softball doesn’t just come with winning; it also comes with the inspiration from Candrea and the profound impact that he has on his players.

    “”I can honestly say that by being a part of this team under coach Candrea, I’ve not only succeeded as a softball player but also a person,”” said Malina. “”Everyday he applies every single thing in softball to our lives so that not only will we be better at softball, but we can also take that into our workplace when we graduate and be very successful.””

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