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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball back to drawing board

The official start of Arizona’s softball season is still almost four months away, but the team got its first taste of action on Sunday against the Pima Community College Aztecs. The Wildcats had an impressive showing in winning 18-0 and only allowing only one hit.

After making the Women’s College World Series 22 out of the last 24 years, a win like this has become what’s expected by Arizona fans, but the team insists that it still has work to do before the season starts.

“We need to focus on taking it day-to-day,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “We can improve our energy in addition to working well in practice.”

If Sunday’s game is any indication, practices have been going well. The offensive explosion was aided by a nine-run, nine-hit inning, that also included three home runs — one from freshman center fielder Hallie Wilson — and back-to-back fifth inning shots from senior first baseman Alicia Banks and fellow first baseman Baillie Kirker.

The Wildcats have the power to out-score opponents, but they know it takes more than that to come out victorious.

“We’re pretty powerful, but we also have lots of speed,” Wilson said. “We have to keep them both going to be successful.”

The Wildcats are lucky to have an experienced team on the field, with 11 of the 21 players being members of the team since its last appearance in the World Series in 2010. Despite that, there is also a lot of youth on the team — six freshmen and four sophomores to be exact. However, the Wildcats can still hang their hats on the chemistry they built in the offseason as they inch closer to the start of the regular season.

“We’re proud of the way the new team has come together so far,” Kirker said. “Everyone contributed and turned out well today.”

Keeping that in mind, Candrea insists his team is not focused on the long-term success of a season not yet started, but instead on getting back to basics.

“Every weekend is a test, and this weekend we passed,” he said. “It’s back to the drawing board though.”

Like any coach, Candrea stressed the importance of taking the season one game at a time, and is “not looking down the road.”
“We’re focused on the now, and we’re just going to continue to work hard,” he said.

While he maintained that hard work and high energy are going to be the constants that propel the Wildcats to success this season, Candrea also acknowledged that some changes needed to be made after last season’s drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma in the NCAA Super Regional. The loss prevented Arizona from making the WCWS.

“Getting your face rubbed in the dirt wakes you up,” he said. “We had to change our practice approach, and get kids back to having fun.

“It’s been a long summer.”

Now that summer is over and fall ball has officially begun, the tests for the Wildcats will keep coming. The test this weekend is the annual Arizona Fall Softball Classic, a tournament that the Wildcats are eagerly awaiting.

“I’m really excited to see the other teams and get a lot of at bats in,” Kirker said.

Added Banks: “There’s so many people coming out to support us, so the turnout is going to be fun.”

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