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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats softball drops first game of Super Regional

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Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea had never been to Norman, Okla. before Friday’s first super regional game against Oklahoma. After a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the Sooners and star pitcher Keilani Ricketts, he might not be in Oklahoma for much longer.

The Wildcats will now have to sweep both of tomorrow’s contests if they plan on keeping their season alive, in what now seem like distant hopes of reaching the Women’s College World Series for the 23rd time, after failing to do most of what Candrea proclaimed would be necessary to stop the Sooners.

Instead of starting the game as the aggressor, the Wildcats reverted back to their bothersome ways that were the reason behind so many of their now 18 losses, digging themselves into a 2-0 hole after one frame of play.

Instead of “making them work for it,” a saying junior pitcher Kenzie Fowler coined as the team’s motto heading into NCAA play, sophomore pitcher Shelby Babcock gave up too many free bases, walking four and hitting another three batters, one of which came on Babcock’s first pitch of the game.

“I just went out there trying to hit my spots,” Babcock said. “I think I had a little bit too many walks, which got me in trouble.”

Instead of “getting the ball on the ground” to “have a chance,” as Candrea put it, Arizona stood by as Ricketts put on a pitching clinic, striking out nine, just one below her season average, and allowing just seven hits, all of which were singles, in her 14th shutout of the year.

Between the fourth and sixth innings, Ricketts allowed just two base runners in ten attempts at the plate, one of which coming via an error by Oklahoma freshman shortstop Jessica Vest.

“Once she gave up hit, she would come right back and not let someone else get a hit, so it was hard for us to string those together to get runs,” third baseman Brigette Del Ponte said.

The one thing Arizona was successful at was keeping Oklahoma’s powerful middle of the lineup in check. Candrea spoke Tuesday about the importance of keeping first baseman Lauren Chamberlain, Ricketts, and catcher Jessica Shults off the bases. Babcock allowed just two hits in nine appearances for the trio, despite one being a Ricketts solo home run, capping the score at 6-0.

Arizona softball dropped to a 4-9 record on the road in the 2012 season, but Candrea believes his team still has a chance, comparing them to the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who overcame the impossible, a three game New York Yankee lead in the playoffs, winning the series 4-3.

“As long as we got innings, we got a chance,” Candrea said optimistically. “That’s how you have to approach it. We know what’s in front of us. They’re a very good Oklahoma team. We gotta beat them. You have to do some things right to win that first game, and then the second game pretty much is up for grabs.”

Arizona will play Saturday at 9 a.m. in a must win situation. If they are able to win the first game, the second game will be played at 11:30 a.m.

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