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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA softball looks for bounce-back weekend at Hillenbrand Invitational

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Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA softball team plays an exhibition game against Yavapai College, October 3, 2010. (Photo by Tim Glass)

After a rocky start to the season at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, the Wildcat softball team will host the Hillenbrand Invitational at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium starting today at 4 p.m. against Alabama-Birmingham.

Arizona will play five games over the span of the weekend. Along with Alabama-Birmingham, the Wildcats will face off against North Dakota tonight at 6 p.m. On Saturday, Arizona will play Western Kentucky and Southern Utah. To wrap up the tournament Sunday, Arizona will again face Southern Utah at 1 p.m.

Arizona has hosted the Hillenbrand Invitational since 1994, and has lost just three games in that time. The Wildcats were a perfect 5-0 a season ago.

Last week in practice, players and coaches talked about not battling themselves and making mental errors. A 3-3 start has the coaches preaching the same concept, according to head coach Mike Candrea.

“We just didn’t put all the pieces together,” Candrea said. “That’s part of the learning process. We have to do a better job of shutting the door.”

Despite losing half of the games played last weekend, senior Lini Koria said the Wildcats’ mistakes are so small that they just need to remain calm and focused in practice.

“We’re not really stressing about it. We’re just trying to get back into it with some games,” Koria said. “This weekend is actually a great thing for us. We can see more pitching from different teams and the different types of speeds they provide.”

Pitcher Shelby Babcock, who is 2-3 with a 2.39 ERA this season, will lead Arizona this weekend. The Wildcats’ ace, Kenzie Fowler, has been battling a “sprained disc in her back,” according to Candrea, but she will get small doses of game action.

“She kind of ran out of gas,” Candrea said. “We have to monitor things and give her what we can. When she’s starting to feel better we’ll be able to work her in more.”

Offensively, the Wildcats figure to overpower the competition. This season, Arizona is batting .329 and hitting 11 home runs while giving up just 35 hits in 148 plate appearances for opponents.

Despite the offensive firepower, Koria says the most important thing to nail down before the season really picks up is the team’s chemistry.

“We’re growing as a group; we have some young kids that are starting, and just trying to guide them to understand the game a little more,” Koria said. “We just want to get back into understanding what it’s like in a game-like situation when everything is live.”

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