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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball wins 5 over break

    Liam Foley/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

The University of Arizona softball mercy rule defeats Simon Fraser University.
    Liam Foley/ Arizona Daily Wildcat The University of Arizona softball mercy rule defeats Simon Fraser University.

    The skeptics said that pitching and defense would haunt the 2009 Arizona softball program, and because they haven’t proved otherwise, the Wildcats live and die with their offense. During spring break, the No. 12 Wildcats (28-7) won five of their seven games behind the red-hot hitting of catcher Stacie Chambers.

    In wins against Texas, New Mexico, Notre Dame and two against New Mexico State, the Wildcat defense gave up an average of 3.4 runs per game but found enough offense to produce victories. But in their two losses to Penn State and No. 8 Michigan, the Wildcats couldn’t connect bat to ball.

    “”Honestly, our pitchers in the last game against Michigan weren’t to blame,”” said senior Sam Banister. “”We couldn’t get it done as an offense and that’s our part, not being mentally prepared.

    “”When it all comes down to it, it’s a matter of our offense being able to put things together and we couldn’t do that for our pitchers,”” she added. “”That’s on us.””

    While they may have lacked consistency as a team, one individual was anything but inconsistent. Chambers was recognized with the Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Week award and a prestigious USA Softball Player of the Week award after tallying 15 RBI off of six hits – all of which were home runs – during the five-game Judi Garman Classic.

    Remarkably, four of those homers came in consecutive at-bats. Chambers hit two home runs in her last two at-bats during the 9-6 loss against Penn State, then opened the Notre Dame contest with two more home runs en route to a 10-1 Arizona victory.

    “”Stacie was seeing the ball quite well and did a great job,”” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “”As a team, we’ve showed we can put some runs on the board quickly. Truthfully, this game comes down to pitching and defense, and we just have to be able to count on more than just our offense.””

    In a double-header with New Mexico State on March 18, the Wildcats twice came out of the gates sluggishly.

    The Aggies jumped out to a early 3-1 lead in the first game and had a 5-4 lead going into the seventh and final inning. That’s when the Wildcat offense exploded for four runs via a pair of two-run homers, one from senior Jenae Leles and the other from freshman Lini Koria.

    Pitcher Jennifer Martinez (5-1) finished off her four innings of relief for starter Sarah Akamine (13-4), and Arizona held off the Aggies for an 8-5 win.

    In the nightcap, the Aggies again jumped on the Arizona pitching, this time against Lindsey Sisk (10-2) who surrendered three earned runs in her short appearance.

    With another 3-1 lead after the first, New Mexico State forced Candrea to replace Sisk with Akamine. Akamine herself would only last two innings after giving up another earned run. She was promptly replaced with Martinez who, behind another Wildcat comeback, held on for her second win of the day, thus complicating the pitching rotation.

    “”Something that coach tells us all the time, that he preaches all the time, is consistent behavior equals consistent performance,”” Martinez said of her increasingly important role. “”That’s just been my main goal, is being consistent and keep doing the things I’ve been doing.””

    Arizona scored two runs in both the fourth and sixth innings, then tallied five more scores in the top of the seventh to provide enough cushion to win the game 10-5.

    “”We came back and put some runs on the board when we needed to, put them late in the game to give ourselves a bit of a cushion and some breathing room,”” Candrea said. “”On the other hand, it’s going to be competitive in the Pac-10 – you have to hit on all cylinders. We’re a V-6 running on four right now.””

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