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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sweeping away defeat

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The No. 3 Arizona softball team, playing in an uncharacteristically flat fashion, were swept by the No. 1 Washington Huskies last weekend. It was the first time the Wildcats were swept by one team since 2008 against the ASU Sun Devils, who went on to win their first NCAA softball title.

Back at home with the Hillenbrand Stadium crowd behind them and the No. 10 Stanford Cardinal (30-6, 4-2 Pacific 10 Conference) on deck, the Wildcats (32-7, 2-4) will focus on three things to get back on track:

Finding their swagger

The Wildcats simply didn’t compete like a team with NCAA Championship aspirations should.

“”We just got beat,”” head coach Mike Candrea said. “”I just don’t think we performed with a lot of confidence.””

Facing Husky ace and reigning NCAA Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie last week, Arizona was intimidated by the senior’s accolades rather than her performance.

“”I think a lot of it was Danielle Lawrie,”” Candrea said. “”She’s a great pitcher, but I think we gave her too much credit.””

The Wildcats will face a younger pitching staff this week, including Stanford running back Toby Gerhart’s sister, freshman Teagan Gerhart (22-5). She touts a 1.58 ERA.

Playing against young pitchers could help the Arizona batters, who struck out a total of 39 times against Lawrie, gain confidence, especially with the crowd and thin Tucson air working to the Wildcats’ advantage.

“”We just need to come out against Stanford and start getting on a roll,”” Candrea said. “”The Pac-10 presents a challenge every week.

“”The mental side of the game is really in the hand of the beholder so (the players have) got to do their part to get where they need to be.””

 

Remembering to forget

Arizona let defensive mistakes and Washington hits snowball. To use a foortall analogy, it couldn’t hurt to develop a cornerback’s mentality.

“”They scored a run and we couldn’t put a stop on it, and that’s what we need to do,”” said freshman ace Kenzie Fowler. “”We didn’t have a lot of short term memory.””

Fowler (21-5), who saw her ERA jump from 0.92 to 1.23 after the weekend, struggled for the first time during her freshman campaign but Candrea wasn’t worried.

Past Arizona pitching legends like Jennie Finch and Alicia Hollowell all went through rough times, he said.

“”She’ll be stronger for it,”” Candrea said.

Overall, Fowler’s assessment was about focus, not fundamentals. Team-wide, that includes keeping composure when things go the opponent’s way.

“”I don’t think we competed as hard as we could,”” Fowler said.

She added that forgetting about the Washington series will help the team move forward.

“”I was disappointed with my whole performance,”” Fowler said. “”I just have to let it go. Next time I’m going to go out, I’m going to compete harder.””

Execution and adjustments

A defensive miscue in the third inning of Game 1 of the Washington series ultimately decided the Wildcats’ fate.

An error by senior leader K’Lee Arredondo allowed a Husky runner to put Washington up 2-0 and Arizona never recovered, losing 2-1 at Washington.

But while that one play might have made the numeric difference, the Wildcats couldn’t adjust to Lawrie to take the lead.

“”Well, we just got outplayed,”” Candrea said. “”We just offensively couldn’t get anything going, (we) fumbled a little bit defensively.””

It was a hard lesson for the team, which had been beating up on opponents consistently early in the season, to learn.

“”(We) just have to learn how to adjust to different situations,”” Fowler said. “”There’s not going to be the same game every game. There’s going to be things you have to work with and learn how to deal with it.””

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