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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Laid-back Wildcats make vital mistakes

The Arizona softball team played its first Pac-12 series this weekend against defending NCAA champion ASU, which currently sits at fifth in the nation and will likely rise in rankings with its sweep of the Wildcats.

After the team’s shaky performance in its final non-conference doubleheader, losing the first of the two games, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea reiterated the importance of competing and said we’d learn a lot about his team after the weekend. He was right.

Arizona has been a mix of three different teams thus far this season, a team that starts at lightning speed like they did against the Sun Devils on Sunday, jumping out to a 6-0 lead before falling 7-6. They’ve been the team that lets opponents linger much longer than necessary before blasting them in the latter innings, such as they did in the second game of the New Mexico State series.

The Wildcats have been consistent in one facet of the game — an inability to pull out victories against opponents they could meet again in the Women’s College World Series, such as Oklahoma State and ASU, both of whom were in the final group a season ago.

Arizona has played 13 of its 27 games against ranked opponents or teams receiving votes to be ranked, and lost all but five of them.

Sure, the Wildcats have gotten rid of the toughest team they’ll face the rest of the season, but there are still games against Cal, Washington, Stanford, UCLA and Oregon, all of whom are ranked in top 25. If Arizona can’t figure it out soon, it could be in an awkward place come selection time for the WCWS.

Just a season ago, they broke a 24-year run in which they made the World Series every year Mike Candrea was at the helm of the Wildcats. Could this be the year they just barely slide into the tournament?

Arizona fans can only hope it’s not like that, but in order to keep postseason dreams alive, the Wildcats are going to have to get out of the routine they’ve fallen into against the better teams they’ve faced.

The Wildcats show confidence at the start of every game. The Wildcats seem to know they are talented, and with the talent they possess, should be able to steamroll most teams.

The problem with a mentality like that is that talent is less than half of the equation. If talent was the only thing that mattered, shutting down ASU, the nation’s fourth-most prolific offense at 7.77 runs per game, and outhitting the Sun Devils would have been enough in Friday’s extra-inning 4-2 loss. Instead, it was the second time in three games Arizona outhit a team and still lost.

At times, there are lulls in games that the team cannot seem to get out of, often resulting in the team just being able to get out by the skin of its teeth.

The Wildcats have officially run out of time trying to diagnose this year’s talented but indolent team. Arizona softball is the epitome of the phrase “sink or swim.”

“We need to reach a little deeper right now and make games, make them go our way” assistant coach Larry Ray said. “These next few series have a lot to tell about the team.”

— Cameron Moon is a journalism junior. He can be reached at or via Twitter @WildcatSports .

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