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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Analysis: Lawrie’s response key to Wildcats’ chances

    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — After the Washington swept Arizona softball team on April 11, a point where the two teams were battling for the top spot in the nation, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea responded to his team’s flat demeanor.

    “”I think this weekend the better team won,”” Candrea said. “”Hopefully we’ll get another shot at them.””

    The series had such an impact on the Wildcats that the players called a meeting to discuss team issues and regroup after the disappointing start to the Pacific 10 Conference schedule.

    Now, there’s no bigger shot for Candrea and the Wildcats to respond to the Huskies the chance to knock the defending national champions out of the Women’s College World Series in an elimination game.

    And Arizona’s only hope of extending their stay in Oklahoma City, Okla., is to get to Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie, the two-time national Player of the Year who has thus far owned the Wildcats in 2010.

    In the three meeting between the two teams this season, she held Arizona to just four runs.

    With a current ERA of 1.11, Lawrie is the ace of the nation, but has showed that she’s not unhittable in the NCAA tournament.

    In the NCAA tournament though, Lawrie has two losses in which she was lit up for 11 earned runs, seven homers and just 10 strikeouts in a combined 12 innings pitched.

    Although Georgia knocked the Washington into the losers’ bracket in the opening round game of this years WCWS, it may not be a good sign for the Wildcats.

    The only thing that has been more impressive than Lawire’s dominance in the Huskies’ wins in the tournament has been her responses in the games after a loss.

    “”She’s has that mentality of like nothing can stop her,”” said Arizona catcher Stacie Chambers of Lawrie. “”I think we’ve all watched Danielle Lawrie pitch and just during like Super Regionals when she was throwing, she lost the first game and came back with a totally different mentality the next game.””

    In the best-of-three Seattle Super Regional, the No. 14 seed Oklahoma upset the No. 3 seed Washington on its home field 6-1.

    The next two games, Lawrie returned to the circle and struck out a combined 27 Sooners to punch Washington’s ticket to the WCWS to defend its title.

    In that game, there was a visible look in her eyes — a determination that refused to relent and shut down Oklahoma.

    That same look showed up in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the end of the opening round loss in the WCWS against Georgia and the Wildcats are preparing for that same intensity in the elimination game on Saturday.

    “”I’m sure it will be there,”” Candrea said after practice on Friday.

    If Lawrie responds to the Wildcats the way she did after the loss to Oklahoma, Arizona will have to find a way to make an in-gam adjustment to keep its WCWS hopes alive.

    Arizona has 81 at-bats on the season against Lawire, and was only able to get to her in the third game of the series when it mounted a small comeback to make the game 4-2 in favor of the Huskies at that time. Washington would eventually win 9-3.

    With the familiarity between the Pacific 10 Conference teams, the Wildcats can’t claim ignorance to Lawrie’s pitching as they did with Tennessee’s Ivy Renfroe, who threw faster than Arizona anticipated.

    Lawrie’s ability to quell the Arizona offense this season isn’t unusual to the Wildcats, but it is a pattern that the Wildcats need to break with their backs against the wall.

    “”I think we’re ready to face her just because we struggled against her earlier this year but right toward the end we got on her and we know that if we can get on anybody we can start getting on her,”” said UA catcher Stacie Chambers.

    The win or go home mentality is sure to bring out the best in Lawire, and for Arizona to have any hope of surviving pas the first two games in Oklahoma City, it will need to match Lawrie’s mentality.

    “”The key is going to be for us to be able to match them pitch for pitch,”” Candrea said. “”You’ve got to crawl out of a hole and you’ve got to take it one game at a time and believe you can do it. You’ve got to play every game like it’s the championship game.””

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