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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

First punch

Earlier in the season, head coach Mike Candrea was worried about his softball team’s slow starts.

And through a three-game series at ASU, the reason for his earlier concerns became blatantly obvious.

In each game, the first team to gain the momentum was likely the victor.

“”You get two teams that I think are explosive, you get hitters on a roll, and if they’re seeing the ball well and making adjustments they’re going to put runs on the board,”” Candrea said.

The Wildcats blasted through the Sun Devils in Games 1 and 3, but were quickly stomped out in Game 2, falling 11-1 in a run-rule shortened five innings. It was the first time in the two rivals’ head-to-head history that ASU had run-ruled Arizona.

The reason for each of this weekend’s results: momentum.

Thanks to two home runs, Game 1 went to Arizona as it knocked in the first five runners in the batting order during the top of the first inning.

In Game 2, the Sun Devils jumped on Arizona pitcher Sarah Akamine, scoring four first-inning runs with active bats and aided by the senior’s newfound struggle with illegal pitches.

The Wildcats wouldn’t recover, not even offensively.

Even in the series finale, where neither team scored until the Wildcats’ four-run third inning, it was a matter of Arizona knocking in the first run that propelled them to a win. The Wildcats would score 10 runs in the next two innings to finish off the Sun Devils.

“”They were all over Sarah (Akamine),”” Candrea said of the Game 2 loss. “”I felt today it was reversed.

“”Once we got to (ASU pitcher Sam) Parlich … a little bit of confidence escalates, and that’s what this game’s all about.””

Combined, the two teams had seven innings in which they scored four or more runs.

That’s seven of only 17 innings played in which one team or the other broke loose of the opponents defensive grasp.

Opening the floodgates propelled each team to their respective wins.

Simply put, the cliché take-one-game-at-a-time stance will be the key for Arizona and any other Pacific 10 Conference team for that matter.

Fail to be the first to jump on the opposing defense, and a victory is unlikely.

Just look at the Pac-10 Conference standings, where no series in the opening weekend ended with a three-game sweep.

Throw the first punch — that’s all the Wildcats need on the bulletin board as far as motivation goes.

— Kevin Zimmerman is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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