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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball opens up spring practice

    UA shortstop KLee Arredondo tosses the ball during the Wildcats first practice of the spring Monday afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arredondo is one of six returning starters who will fight to keep Arizona softball as one of college softballs elite programs in the 2009 season.
    UA shortstop K’Lee Arredondo tosses the ball during the Wildcats’ first practice of the spring Monday afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arredondo is one of six returning starters who will fight to keep Arizona softball as one of college softball’s elite programs in the 2009 season.

    After returning from the Beijing Olympics with a silver medal, legendary softball coach Mike Candrea is ready to step back into the role of head coach for Arizona softball.

    And he brings high hopes with him.

    “”He told us that he wants us to be in the last game of the college season,”” said sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes.

    After eight national championships and 23 years as a softball coach, Candrea has the kind of influence to get a team motivated to do just that. He plans to return to typical Arizona form and lead the team deep into the Women’s College World Series. Although the goal of reaching the WCWS was accomplished last year under interim coach Larry Ray, the Wildcats were eliminated in just two games, falling short of their third straight national title.

    Players and personnel have already felt the difference in this year’s team as Candrea’s impact is already spreading throughout the diamond.

    “”It’s definitely helpful that he’s here. It’s a different presence,”” said sophomore pitcher Lindsey Sisk. “”I can already see a difference in this team, more confident, ready to go out there.””

    Candrea’s process began Monday as the team stepped onto Hillenbrand Aquatic Center to kick off spring practices. His presence is just one of the differences that he brought back to the team. Along with careful planning and preparation, Candrea and his staff outlined the major strengths and weaknesses of the team.

    “”The next step is we will get together and I will put on the board everything we listed,”” Candrea said. “”We will go through it and prioritize it and really give them a snapshot of where they’re at right now and what can get in our way.””

    This method of preseason preparation outlines the team’s potential and the things it needs to accomplish for the Wildcats’ return to the top of the collegiate softball standings.

    This year’s team includes the return of six starters along with newcomers who have the opportunity to have an impact on the starting lineup. This may be another winning combination and could bring another championship back to the desert. Candrea has expressed that nothing is definite yet and that lineups and positions are still up for grabs in some cases.

    The Wildcats added four freshmen to their lineup, all of whom are position players from either California or Arizona. The players know that in order to reach Candrea’s goal, both the veterans and the fresh faces will have to contribute.

    The ultimate goal for the UA is to bring home its third championship in four years. For the seniors on the team, that means leading the way for the freshmen and sophomores who have yet to be called national champions.

    “”We hope the freshmen aren’t freshmen and more,”” said senior Laine Roth. “”They should come in here and think, ‘I can contribute just as much as anyone else.'””

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