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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball hosts Pac-12 newcomer between pair of series against top-5 teams

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball vs Sandiego

Arizona softball’s three-game series at home against Utah is sandwiched in between No. 1 Cal this coming weekend and No. 4 Washington last weekend, including a doubleheader tonight at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

The Wildcats (25-10, 4-5 Pac-12) enter the game after winning a series against arguably the toughest competition they’ve had, and in the process, muzzling critics who doubted the team’s ability to conquer opponents capable of handling Arizona’s deep and powerful lineup.

Utah (23-12, 0-6 Pac-12) just got swept by Cal and is still searching for its first-ever conference win as a member of the Pac-12, but senior Lini Koria does not plan on giving up that quickly.

“We definitely faced a lot of good, positive things with our at-bats, pitching, and defensively,” Koria said in reference to the Wildcats’ performance this weekend. “There were a lot of good plays on the field. It just gives us more momentum before we play Utah. We’re going to face a team that can give us different speeds than we’re used to seeing. It doesn’t change our game plan at all. We’re just going to be on a roll after this.”

The game plan all season has been to make smart plays defensively and get timely hits in addition to maintaining the strong pitching the Wildcats already possess. Pitchers Kenzie Fowler and Shelby Babcock were both successful in the Washington series, each winning a game.

Arizona will look to cease its current habit of letting opponents stay in games longer than they should. Just this weekend, the Wildcats’ defense had “lapses,” as head coach Mike Candrea put it, and allowed five runs in one inning, ending Arizona’s chances to sweep the Huskies.

In terms of hitting, Arizona’s bats have had no problem lighting up the scoreboard all season long. Five Wildcat batters currently boast a batting average above .300 and six have scored at least 22 runs for Arizona. The bats will be tested against Utah ace Generra Nielson, who has a 2.06 ERA, more than five runs below Arizona’s season average.

Candrea said that the UA’s wins in the Washington series were a result of every aspect of the game coming together at the same time, and he hopes to see more of the same against Utah.

“This weekend we had some great defensive plays, some timely hitting when we needed it, some good pitches when we needed it,” he said.

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