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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball finding identity

    Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wildcat softball takes on Minnesota on Friday, March 6th, 2009.
    Mike Christy
    Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Wildcat softball takes on Minnesota on Friday, March 6th, 2009.

    There’s no denying that Arizona’s softball team is talented.

    Shortening 14 games via mercy rule doesn’t occur unless there’s major power behind those bats. Drilling Division I softball squads Minnesota, UTEP and Saint Joseph’s for 20 runs each doesn’t happen to average teams either.

    And that is why head coach Mike Candrea’s patience is nearing the end of its rope. With Pacific 10 Conference games approaching, Candrea would like to see a little more consistency from his No. 12 Wildcats.

    “”We have to learn how to be consistent from the moment we step on the field to the moment we leave,”” said senior Sam Banister. “”Unfortunately, that’s the thing our team isn’t doing a good job of. If we get ahead of a team, we just shut down and think we have the game in the bag.””

    Slow starts have also plagued Arizona (28-7). During two spring break games at New Mexico State, Arizona fell behind the Aggies after the first inning. But unlike a loss to Creighton a few weeks prior, the Wildcats battled back behind their offense.

    “”I was very pleased with our performance offensively,”” Candrea said. “”I think we’re slowly starting to get a few things.””

    Their 28-7 record is nothing to scoff at, but playing in perhaps the most difficult conference in the nation, Arizona will need to find its groove through every inning of play.

    Big Competition

    While they have yet to play an in-conference game, Arizona has seen plenty of competition from other “”power”” conferences, namely teams out of the Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences.

    Candrea’s team has a 3-3 record against Big Ten schools, showing its inconsistencies have hurt them against quality opposition. They won against a Top 30 ranked Illinois team earlier in the season, but then fell 9-6 to Penn State after coming out flat last Saturday.

    “”You can’t give good teams that much of a cushion and expect to come back all the time,”” Candrea said of the loss. “”We’re going to get used to that, where we know we’re going to give up some runs, but we just have to keep the damage down to a minimum.””

    But a 4-0 loss to then-No. 8 Michigan showed that while there’s work to do, Arizona can hang with the best teams in the country.

    “”It was definitely a good learning experience going up against a huge-name school, and being at least able to compete with them,”” Banister said. “”We’re not as good as them yet, but we can definitely compete with them.””

    Supporting that theory was a three-game series versus last year’s national championship runners-up Texas A&M, out of the Big 12. The Aggies took two of the three games from the Wildcats but needed extra innings in each of their victories to defeat a scrappy Arizona team.

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