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Arizona softball team staying confident after underwhelming road trip, looks ahead to Washington series

Arizona+pitcher+Mariah+Lopez+%2842%29+talks+with+her+teammate+and+assistant+coach+Taryne+Mowatt-McKinney+at+the+start+of+the+a+new+inning.+
Ana Beltran
Arizona pitcher Mariah Lopez (42) talks with her teammate and assistant coach Taryne Mowatt-McKinney at the start of the a new inning.

The Arizona softball team returned to Tucson after a week in Florida that saw them play seven games in eight days. While in the sunshine state, pitcher Mariah Lopez was awarded the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week after her stellar outing against No. 15 Florida State on Friday, March 12.

Lopez held the Seminoles to three hits and no runs in a pitchers’ duel that saw the Wildcats come out on top by a margin of 1-0. Lopez was honored but realizes that she and the team have larger goals. 

“It was a cool honor,” Lopez said. “I’m just letting it go because now my focus is on this upcoming week … against Washington.”

Another Wildcat who had a big game down in Florida was shortstop Jessie Harper. On Wednesday, March 10, the Wildcats faced Florida A&M, and Harper punished the Rattlers. 

Harper had a monster line, going 6-6 with two home runs, six RBIs and two runs scored. Her two home runs brought her career total to 80, making her only the eleventh softball player to reach that total. Harper mirrored her teammate Lopez about how she was happy to achieve an amazing honor, but she knows that is not what she wants most. 

“I have been saying this from the start: I want to win,” Harper said. “I want to get to the national championship, and I want to win the last game of the World Series. Home runs are cool, but it is not the end all be all.”

RELATED: Play Ball: the Daily Wildcat baseball & softball podcast [S1 Ep3] Arizona baseball and softball teams ready to enter conference play

While Lopez and Harper had great performances in Florida, the team did not fare so well. During their road trip, the Wildcats went 4-3, including two shutout losses. One came against No. 22 UCF on Monday, March 8, and the other against No. 15 Florida State on Saturday, March 13. Multiple losses in one week for Arizona is rather unusual but head coach Mike Candrea knows it is just the ways things go in softball.

“You are not going to win every game,” Candrea said. “I am not going to make any excuses for us. We were on the road, and you have to learn how to deal with it because that’s where you have to win is on the road.”

Hopefully, the Wildcats will learn soon because they are heading back on the road to face the Washington Huskies to open Pac-12 conference play. Candrea is confident that his team will bounce back. 

“We know Washington,” Candrea said. “They are a very good team, just like we are. You are going to have to get people on base, execute the short game … and do the little things it takes to have good at-bats. There is a challenge ahead of us, and we have to continue to grow, and I think these kids understand that.”

Arizona will head to Washington to face the Huskies at Husky Softball Stadium on Friday, March 19, at 6 p.m. MST.


Follow Sean Fagan on Twitter


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