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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball done in Oklahoma City

    Pitcher Sarah Akamine talks to the media Saturday after a 14-0 loss to Alabama.
    Pitcher Sarah Akamine talks to the media Saturday after a 14-0 loss to Alabama.

    OKLAHOMA CITY – The 2009 Arizona Wildcat softball team has set a number of records this year including a few that they didn’t want to.

    For the second straight year, the Wildcats were swept in two games. For the second straight year, Arizona did not score an earned run. And For the second straight year, the Wildcats did not survive elimination, losing to Alabama 14-0 Saturday.

    That said, the 2009 Women’s College World Series was a disappointment for the eight time national champs. After falling at the hands of the Florida Gators 3-0 on Thursday night, the Wildcats (46-17) were one game from elimination.

    Their only hope was to win against the Crimson Tide, the team that knocked them out of last year’s tournament. But Arizona was not just defeated by Alabama – they were dominated.

    The Crimson Tide (53-10) handed the Wildcats their worst loss in their WCWS history but also the worst loss in the entirety of the eight-team event. At the end of five innings, the scoreboard read 14-0 in favor of Alabama. The game was called on the run-rule.

    Wildcat head coach Mike Candrea was forced to use all three of his pitchers in the game. Even though Arizona didn’t have a standout ace this year, the combination of their three pitchers had done well enough to get them to Oklahoma City. On Saturday though, no one was able to contain the Crimson Tide.

    “”If one doesn’t work, you bring in the other,”” Candrea said. “”And if that one doesn’t work then you bring in the other.

    “”It’s been our challenge all year,”” he added. “”You can’t compete here unless you pitch well.””

    Arizona pitchers gave up a combined 16 hits. Alabama’s 14 runs are the most scored in by a single team in the tournament’s history. Their margin of defeat was also the largest in a WCWS game.

    The opportunity for the Wildcats to rally died in the second inning. After putting up two runs in the first inning off of starter Sarah Akamine, the Crimson Tide created an onslaught of hits and runs.

    Akamine (22-8) gave up a single and an RBI double before being replaced by Jennifer Martinez. The redshirt senior lasted only four batters while three more runs would score during Martinez’s (11-4) time in the circle.

    After the score was 6-0, Thursday starter Lindsey Sisk stepped into the circle. She would record the three outs in the third and one out in the fourth before Akamine would return to the circle to replace Sisk (13-5).

    But Alabama wouldn’t let up at the plate. They scored a total of eight runs in the second inning, before adding a pair in the third and the fifth inning. Every player for the Crimson Tide had at least one hit and one RBI and their five doubles tied the most in a WCWS game.

    “”It’s tough when you give up that many to fight back,”” Candrea said after the loss. “”We put ourselves behind the eight ball.””

    For Arizona, their struggles at the plate continued. Against pitcher Charlotte Morgan (18-6), they tallied five hits though none would help a run cross the plate. The middle of the lineup continued to struggle in the batter’s box. Six players did not record a hit.

    “”I really thought we were going to move the ball against her,”” said Candrea. “”I thought we hit some balls right on the money but right at someone.””

    The loss against Alabama was the second time Arizona has been shutout in this year’s tournament. The last time the Wildcats were shutout in the College World Series was in 1990.

    For the Arizona seniors, going 0-2 was not just a disappointment – it was a let down.

    “”I guess I didn’t realize how much being a sophomore and even as a freshmen when we won, we relied on our seniors,”” senior Sam Banister said. “”Its kind disappointing not being able to come through for our underclassmen.””

    The seniors on the team already had two national titles under their belts but were reminded of just how much work it took to get there after going 0-2 for the second year in a row.

    “”I feel like you can’t take winning for granted,”” said third baseman Jenae Leles. “”You have to work just as hard every single year. My junior and senior year we came up short and left in two games.””

    Arizona’s downfall in the 2009 tournament started with struggles at the plate. They didn’t lead for any portion of their WCWS appearance. Although their struggles in the circle were most apparent on the biggest softball stage, their season proves that great hitting can pick up the slack for a team.

    But the key for the Wildcats was to keep their offense steady throughout their post-season appearance. In the tournament, it only got tougher for Arizona to keep up with their opponents’ scoring.

    “”It’s hard when you’re playing from behind,”” outfielder Brittany Lastrapes said. “”Especially with these pitchers and these teams it’s tough, but we still needed to score runs.””

    Look back at Arizona softball’s World Series run

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