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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Opinion: Softball bats must wake up

    First baseman Sam Banister speaks to the media after a 3-0 loss to Florida. Banister went hitless in the game.
    First baseman Sam Banister speaks to the media after a 3-0 loss to Florida. Banister went hitless in the game.

    OKLAHOMA CITY – For No. 9 Arizona, the question going into the 2009 Women’s College World Series was supposed to be their pitching, not their offense. On Thursday night, the Arizona Wildcats discovered a softball truth – good pitching will always beat good hitting.

    Wildcat pitching was the not problem for Arizona in their first game in Oklahoma City. Although starter Lindsey Sisk gave up two homeruns in three innings, the damage was not enough to put the Wildcats out of the game. Florida led 3-0 after the second inning.

    Head coach Mike Candrea had the quick trigger and replaced Sisk (13-5) with Sarah Akamine in the third inning. The junior struck out seven, and did not allow another Gator run to score.

    Akamime (22-7) succeeded in keeping the game winnable for the Wildcats – she only gave up three hits. The problem for Arizona was their inability to get runners on base. After the first inning, the only players to reach base were those who walked.

    Arizona’s key has been the ability to string together hits and to score early. The downfall of their attempt to get to Gator pitcher Stacey Nelson was their failure to score in the first inning.

    “”This is the time of the year when you have to do things you need to,”” Candrea said. You have to execute. This is what the College World Series is about.””

    This season, Arizona is 32-3 when they score in the first inning. Although there were six more chances for Arizona’s offense, their momentum was killed after failing to score with two runners on and no one out.

    The Wildcats were held to just two hits in 23 at-bats. Their only chance came early in the game when outfielder Brittany Lastrapes and shortstop K’Lee Arredondo hit back-to-back singles in the first inning. After that, Nelson (40-3) mowed down the rest of the Wildcats.

    It wasn’t just good defense by the Gators that kept Arizona off the base path – it was Arizona’s impatience. The Gator ace struck out 12 batters throughout the game, sending down as many as seven in a row.

    Wildcat hitters chased balls out of the zone, and were caught looking at called third strikes.

    As the game got older, more and more Arizona batters became strikeout victims. Catcher Stacie Chambers stuck out three times, while sophomore Lauren Schutzler, freshman Karissa Buchanan, and Arredondo all struck out twice.

    It was hard pressed for Wildcat hitters to even make contact with the ball. The only two balls to leave the infield were the hits in the first inning. No small ball or long ball could save the Wildcats.

    This game was the not the only time Arizona’s bats had let them down. In the four games they’ve been shutout this season, three of those have been by teams participating in the 2009 WCWS (Washington, Michigan, and Florida). In those losses, twice the bullpen has kept opponents scoring to four runs or less.

    Granted, Arizona faced the All-American Nelson, but on paper, Arizona should have no problem winning games. With the number one offense in the country and the all time NCAA homerun record, the Wildcats should find some way to come through.

    Although they do not have one ace pitcher, the squad’s combined ERA sits at only 2.81. The Wildcats, on average, score 8.18 runs per game. The striking difference so far this post season is the cold spell that the Arizona’s bats seem to run into.

    Their failure to execute puts the Wildcats one loss away from elimination, and made the climb back to an NCAA championship very difficult, if not impossible.

    Arizona knows its offense is the key to its wins. It’s time to step up to the plate.

    Click here for the Summer ’09 softball homepage

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