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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Walk-on Lavine marking her territory

Shortstop+Alex+Lavine+has+worked+her+way+into+the+starting+lineup+despite+not+being+recruited+by+Arizona.+The+walk-on+from+Glendale%2C+Ariz.+has+started+12+games+for+Arizona+this+season.
Shortstop Alex Lavine has worked her way into the starting lineup despite not being recruited by Arizona. The walk-on from Glendale, Ariz. has started 12 games for Arizona this season.

Since 2007, the number seven jersey has been associated with shortstop K’Lee Arredondo.

Even after her graduation, the jersey number is still associated with the Arizona softball shortstop position, something that the current number seven didn’t expect.

Walk-on Alex Lavine didn’t think she would be playing softball — let alone starting — at the college level.

But Lavine is making the biggest impact on the Wildcat line-up, beating out three other players to claim the shortstop position for head coach Mike Candrea.

She wasn’t Arizona’s biggest 2011 recruit. In fact, she wasn’t even recruited at all.

Arizona was always Lavine’s first choice, but there were no calls at the end of her senior season.

“”I always really wanted to go here, but no one ever really said I could,”” Lavine said. “”A couple times, I was like, ‘Oh, God. I don’t know where I’m going to go,’ because I didn’t believe in myself for a little bit. I really got my mind on track and knew what I wanted — to get here.””

The freshman from Glendale, Ariz., pulled both her hamstrings in her junior year of high school, putting serious doubts on her recruiting campaign.

Relations between a former coach and current Wildcat pitching coach Teresa Wilson finally got Candrea’s attention.

She chose the unpredictable career at her dream school over offers from Stanford, Washington, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Louisville.  

“”When coach Wilson told me she was interested in me walking on, and coach Candrea liked the idea too, I was just like, that’s what I want to do,”” Lavine said. “”I don’t care about anything else.””

Her determination is something that Candrea said sets her apart because it changes the way she makes adjustments to the ball, corrects her mistakes and her mindset about each game.

“”I talked to her and really liked her attitude about the game,”” he said. “”When I went and watched her play I saw she played the game hard. She practices hard, she plays hard. She’s not scared of anything.””

Lavine’s confidence isn’t an intimidating characteristic. In fact, the 5-foot-4 redhead quietly goes through her drills, warm-ups and pre-practice run just like any other player.

Although Candrea saw the confidence on the field, Lavine said she struggled with her poise at the beginning of the season.   

“”It was very nerve racking,”” Lavine said. “”The first time I started, I was really nervous. I was shaking on the field.

“”Then I got that first ground ball, and I did it. I’ve been doing this all my life. I needed to relax.””

Lavine made her Wildcat debut in the third game of the season for Arizona and has started 12 of Arizona’s 14 games overall.

Third baseman Brigette Del Ponte said the communication was the biggest adjustment for Lavine, whose quiet confidence left her silent on the field during games.

“”Our first few games, they were OK,”” Del Ponte said. “”We talked to each other and we got our communication down. I’m getting really comfortable with her there.””

Less than a month away from Pacific 10 Conference play, Candrea said he’s comfortable in naming her Arizona’s starter at shortstop.

“”She deserves to be there,”” Candrea said. “”She’s not scared of anything. She doesn’t set any boundaries for herself.

“”She just goes out and plays the game and works hard every day and controls the things she’s got control over and doesn’t worry about anything else.””

That characteristic is what kept Lavine focused during a rocky recruitment, an uncertain pre-season line-up and into the starting position on the nation’s No. 4 team. Lavine didn’t know if she would even see playing time this season, but the only player listed as “”utility”” on Arizona’s roster has proved effective so far.

“”I’ve been starting on what I think is the best team in the nation,”” Lavine said. “”It’s my dream coming true, finally.””

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