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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball begins home slate

    The No. 8 Arizona softball team (6-4) has had the unfortunate luck of trying to ease into its season while figuring out position battles and getting accustomed to full-speed games again all while on the road.

    Arizona’s first 10 games have all taken place away from Hillenbrand Stadium, but the Wildcats return home this weekend when they host 15 games in the Hillenbrand Invitational on their home field.

    “”It is going to be nice to return home,”” said pitcher Taryne Mowatt. “”I can’t remember the last time we started off a season this many games away from Hillenbrand.””

    Of the Wildcats’ five slated games, only No. 24 Virginia Tech, who they play Saturday, is ranked. Also on tap for Arizona are games against South Florida and Iowa State tonight and Illinois-Chicago on Saturday before their matchup with the Hokies while rounding out the weekend against New Mexico State on Sunday.

    After competing in the Palm Springs Classic last weekend in Cathedral City, Calif., where the Wildcats defeated then-No. 10 Baylor and then-No. 6 LSU, Arizona is looking forward to continue its progression at home.

    The Wildcats split a double-header with the Canadian Olympic team Wednesday, taking the first game 8-5 and falling 6-4 in the nightcap.

    “”It is always great to be home with our weather and our great fans,”” said interim head coach Larry Ray. “”We are used to the surface and we are used to the outfield. There is a lot of history here and it will be like other teams walking into Yankee Stadium.

    “”We definitely have an advantage any time someone steps through those gates,”” Ray added. “”It used to be, and it still is, that we have a one-run advantage here and we need to make sure we keep that edge.””

    One thing the Wildcats found out from their win over the Canadians – aside from the fact they now know they can compete with any team – is they have more depth in their pitching rotation than they’ve had in recent memory.

    Sophomore Sarah Akamine made her first pitching appearance in the first game and closed out the second game with a 1-2-3 inning. Akamine threw five innings and yielded no earned runs after not expecting to see that much action.

    “”I thought I was just going to throw an inning,”” Akamine said. “”I was nervous at first and then I got used to it after a while.””

    Ray said it is good to know that Akamine can be effective off the bench, especially because she is behind two pitchers, Mowatt and freshman Lindsey Sisk, who have thrown well thus far this season.

    “”The brightest thing that came out of (the games against Team Canada) was Sarah Akamine,”” Ray said. “”To throw the innings that she threw as well as she did is very encouraging, and this team is going to need it.

    “”She is going to be useful in terms of taking innings of off Mowatt and Sisk, and it is nice to have her as an insurance policy,”” Ray added. “”Right now I am pleased with Lindsey, and Taryne is going to be Taryne, but in those bad days we are going to need Sarah to step in.””

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