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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball cruises at fall tourney

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Cats downed the Lobos 5-0 Saturday night at Hillenbrand Stadum.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The ‘Cats downed the Lobos 5-0 Saturday night at Hillenbrand Stadum.

The Wildcat softball team brought out the brooms this weekend, sweeping their five-game set in the Arizona Fall Classic at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The bats came alive at the beginning of the tournament, starting in Friday’s game when the Wildcats enjoyed an 8-0 win over Arizona Western College. Juniors Brittany Lastrapes and Lauren Schutzler set the tone at the plate, as each had three hits in the game, and a total of six different Wildcats drove in runs. 

In the circle, freshman Kenzie Fowler continued to show fans why they should be excited about her career in Tucson, striking out 14 over six innings while only giving up two hits.

“”I was nervous at the beginning,”” Fowler said, “”but I got the butterflies out a little bit as the game went on.””

The momentum carried to Saturday when the team won a pair of games over the University of New Mexico and Central Arizona College, topping their opponents 5-0 and 10-1, respectively. The Lobos mustered only one hit off Fowler, who struck out 10 in a complete game effort.

“”I’m just having fun out there,”” Fowler said.

Against Central Arizona, a third inning barrage of home runs by Lastrapes, senior K’Lee Arredondo and freshman Baillie Kirker busted the game open, while senior Ashley Ralston-Alvarez kept Arizona on top for good as she stifled Central Arizona for just one run over 5.2 innings.

“”Kenzie (Fowler) throws hard, I don’t throw hard,”” Ralston-Alvarez said, smiling. “”So to get outs, I just want ground balls and more ground balls and anything I can get.””

On Sunday, the team completed the sweep as they took care of Cypress College 4-1 and Pima Community College 6-0. Ralston-Alvarez stuck to her game plan in her four innings of work against Cypress as seven of her twelve outs were induced by ground balls. 

Kirker and sophomore Lini Koria hit back-to-back home runs into the stands against Pima, and that was all the insurance Fowler needed, capping off her strong weekend by striking out 10 in a two-hit, complete game.

Although the Wildcats won every game over the weekend, coaches and players alike stressed the importance of getting better.

“”I saw a lot of good things offensively, and I saw a lot of good things defensively,”” head coach Mike Candrea said. “”We got two or three months now to get where we want to be, and we have to take advantage of that time to get better.””

His tone echoed that of his players, who see fall practices as an opportunity to improve and grow as a unit.

“”It’s early in the season, every little work we can do together is going to make us better,”” Ralston-Alvarez said on Sunday.

The tournament also helped boost team chemistry, as players on the bench could be seen all weekend on the top step of the dugout encouraging their teammates with every pitch.

“”We’re playing as a team,”” Ralston-Alvarez said. “”There’s a good feeling in the dugout, and we’re all there for each other every at-bat.””

Although there is room for improvement before the spring, the Wildcats showed that they are a strong all-around team this weekend, and the chemistry that they are building, along with hard work in practice, gives Candrea confidence going forward.

“”It’s time to get ready for the Pac(ific) 10 (Conference) and Division I (competition),”” Candrea said, “”and I think this team will do a good job of that, there’s no doubt.””

 

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