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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pro/Con: Which team has a better chance at being No. 1 at the end of the season?

    Baseball will prevail

    Everyone has heard the old cliché that defense wins championships.

    In baseball, pitching easily carries the heaviest weight defensively and this Arizona team will enter the season Friday with what is expected to be one of the deepest rotations in the nation.

    Headed by their ace and 2007 All-American award-winning Preston Guilmet, the Wildcats will begin each weekend with a solid right-hander who baffled hitters last season, finishing the year with an astounding 1.87 ERA. While performing a repeat of this performance may prove difficult, Guilmet will surely be a difficult opponent for hitters on Friday nights.

    Behind Guilmet, Arizona likely finds itself with four more very capable starters in David Coulon, Mike Colla, Eric Berger and a healthy Ryan Perry rounding off the rotation.

    All four starters finished last season strong, and according to head coach Andy Lopez, have proven consistent throughout the offseason.

    Because of the condensed season the NCAA installed this season, Arizona’s pitching depth will be a key to success.

    Another weapon the Wildcats have in their arsenal which will prove vital due to the new schedule is strong arms in the late innings. Closers Daniel Schlereth and Jason Stoffel, return to Arizona, both of whom finished 2007 with ERA’s under 3.00.

    This dual threat will prove valuable as the two can combine to shorten games for the starters providing potential shut-out ball for 3-5 innings should Lopez choose to throw both in the same game; an option he says is a possibility.

    Next to pitching, the second-most required weapon for success is big bats. Again, Arizona should find itself with the advantage.

    Special emphasis will be placed on first baseman C.J. Ziegler who held a .355 average with 38 extra-base hits and 63 RBI’s while spending most of his time as a designated hitter. The Wildcats will need another big year from him as the unofficial leader on offense.

    For months now, Arizona’s deep squad has been hyped up by numerous publications.

    The most valid hype, however, could be from the Pacific 10 Conference coaches themselves, who picked the Wildcats to take the conference.

    When the coaches who know these teams the best even say you look good, it must be true.

    In addressing his team’s high preseason rankings Lopez said, “”this is a chance to fulfill a dream.””

    The talk has been talked, now it’s time for the walk to be walked.

    -Bobby Stover, sports writer


    Softball will 3-peat

    Everyone has heard the old cliché that history repeats itself.

    In softball, pitching easily carries the heaviest weight defensively and Arizona has that in Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding player, Taryne Mowatt.

    Oh yeah, they showed a year ago and the year before that winning a national championship is never beyond reach – not to mention the other six the team has won.

    Softball has only missed the WCWS once since 1987, so I think the tradition gives them more than a good enough shot for a threepeat.

    After all, the baseball team hasn’t won a title since 1986. I’m not saying they don’t have a legitimate chance, or that they certainly won’t, but the softball team definitely poses a better threat historywise.

    Speaking of the past, so far in softball’s history they have appeared in the following year’s WCWS title game after winning the national championship in the previous year – not to mention six of seven Pacific 10 Conference championships and an average 60-7 record over those seven seasons.

    Sure, Mowatt struggled in last weekend’s Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, but she gave up two walk-off home runs in consecutive days in the same tournament last year. Mowatt just needs a few games to get settled in before she starts dominating again.

    “”It was pretty tough to keep myself mentally composed,”” Mowatt said of her tough outing against Northwestern in which she gave up eight earned runs. “”I don’t remember that ever happening to me, but I will learn from my mistakes and move forward.””

    I would count on her word.

    Last year Mowatt was completely dominating – the All-American posted a 42-12 record that was complemented by an astonishing 1.46 ERA.

    It is important not to get swayed by the Wildcats’ performance early on in the season, it is early and they have a lot of big shoes to fill. They still are getting used to the prospect of playing with one another, getting comfortable with their new positions, and figure out who will give them the best options at those positions.

    “”My overall assessment of this past weekend is not good, but I always know we have a long way to go and have all the pieces there,”” Arizona interim head coach Larry Ray said. “”Everyone isn’t on the same page right now, and as a coaching staff it is our job to get everyone on the same page. Once we do that, I am sure we will be OK.””

    Ray obviously knows more about softball than you and me so just sit back, listen to the man and watch Arizona sweep through the season and make it back to Oklahoma City’s last game.

    -Ari Wasserman, assistant sports editorr

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