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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Candrea’s surprise move proves genius, yet again”

To opposing teams, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is an evil genius.

In the top of the sixth inning with one out in Sunday’s game against the No. 8 Washington Huskies, Niki Williams hit a ground ball to second. The throw by second baseman Kristen Arriola took first baseman Lini Koria off the bag, but she applied the tag before Williams could reach first.

The first base umpire, however, disagreed and called Williams safe.

It only took five seconds for the 55-year-old coach to trot out of the Arizona dugout and onto the field.

He calmly spoke with first base umpire Lori Bish and then simply pointed to home plate umpire Tony Cooper, asking for a second opinion.

Cooper raised his fist, claiming the runner was out. The call was reversed.

The out helped end Washington’s attempt to mount a comeback in the fifth inning and turned the game and the series in favor of the Wildcats.

Candrea’s magic with the umpires wasn’t even his biggest stunt of the weekend.

After being blanked 3-0 on Friday, the Wildcat head coach did something he said took “”quite a bit”” to get him to do.

He changed everything.

“”I’m going to stir things up tonight,”” Candrea told left fielder Brittany Lastrapes before Saturday’s game. “”I’m going with the numbers.””

The wisdom of Candrea’s move isn’t that he made a change. It was clear something needed to happen to decrease the number of Wildcats stranded at the end of each inning.

His quiet but clutch decision-making is what made the change effective.

There was no discussion about who should bat where, and there wasn’t time for batters to try and argue where they thought they should go. The lineup was only posted 10 minutes before first pitch.

Saturday was a critical turning point. The Huskies regarded Friday’s victory as a “”signature win”” over an experienced Arizona team.

Arizona’s season came to a fork in the road.

Would they be the team that lived up to the pre-season hype or would Arizona fall way short of expectations?

Even after 26 years of coaching in Tucson, Candrea still has tricks up his sleeve.

He did what he needed to do to save the weekend series with the Huskies. He did what he needed to do to save the season offensively.

Candrea’s by-the-numbers approach not only shook up the lineup, but it shook up the situational hitting opportunities — he broke up the monotony of the Arizona’s hitters.

He chose to favor the approach of trusting the stats.

Center fielder Lauren Schutzler, Arizona’s new leadoff hitter, went 6-for-8 in the two games since the change.

Arizona had 20 hits and drove in all but one of its 19 runs over the course of two days.

And while Arizona still left more than 20 runners on base this weekend, they got the two winning results that they needed to turn the season around before the biggest matchup of the conference season.

Players might have silently questioned Candrea’s decision to make changes in those ten minutes between posting and play, but they can’t argue with the results.

After all, the numbers didn’t lie.

 

— Nicole Dimtsios is a journalism junior. She can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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