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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Staff Picks

Sotfball

Kevin Zimmerman

Assistant sports editor

Team finish: National runner-up

Arizona didn’t lose much from last season and now has a chip on its shoulder after bowing out in the 2009 Women’s College World Series in embarrassing fashion. The Wildcats now have the pitching, but Kenzie Fowler is still a freshman — as pitchers go, Florida’s Stacey Nelson and Washington’s Danielle Lawrie have the advantage of experience.

MVP: Brittany Lastrapes

The team’s lead-off hitter last year hit a team-high .480 batting average while tallying 104 hits on the 2009 season — the second highest player on the team had only 72. Plus, the speedy junior will come through in the clutch.

 

X-factor: Sarah Akamine

If the Wildcats can squeeze solid innings out of the often-injured Akamine, that much more pressure will be off ace Kenzie Fowler to carry the team on her shoulders. That will be the key: Giving Fowler the season to develop in time for the World Series.

 

Nicole Dimtsios

Sports editor

Team finish: National Championship

What the Wildcats were missing last year was consistency, either in the circle or at the plate, depending on the day. This season, head coach Mike Candrea and Arizona have the answers to fill both vacancies in ace Kenzie Fowler and last year’s number one offense.

MVP: Kenzie Fowler

Fowler is the heir to the Arizona pitching throne. Despite being an addition to Wildcat softball, no one has more power than Fowler. The freshman pitcher has been recorded at speeds higher than Jennie Finch’s and has the ability to make even the best batters look ridiculous.

X-factor: Lini Koria

The backup catcher for the Wildcats could make a big impact in the batter’s box this season. After filling the role of designated hitter for Arizona in 2009, Koria will be able to both improve her numbers and supply the power in the middle of the lineup to drive in runs.

 

 

Baseball

 

Mike Schmitz

Sports reporter

Team finish: Fourth place in the Pacific 10

The Wildcats were selected to finish fifth in the Preseason Coaches Poll, but with the new blood in the program after last season’s nightmare of a season, I expect Arizona to surprise some people. It may take some time to hit stride, but a fourth-place finish in the Pac-10 is realistic for this group of youngsters.

MVP: Bryce Ortega

After turning in a first team All-Pac-10 season last year — .324, 53 runs in 54 starts at shortstop — Ortega will be looked to as a leader in the field and near the top of the batting order. With so many youngsters in the field, Ortega will play a huge role in the Wildcats’ success this season, and I’d expect the former walk-on to answer the bell and perform as the team’s best all-around player this season, whether it is at shortstop or second base.

X-factor: Kurt Heyer

The freshman hurler is expected to be the team’s number three starter on Sundays. While returning pitchers Kyle Simon and Daniel Workman have already proven what they can do at the collegiate level, Heyer is still a question mark. If he is really as impressive as the coaching staff and players say, he could transform the pitching staff from average to almost untouchable.

 

Michael Fitzsimmons

Sports reporter

Team finish: Fourth place in the Pacific 10

Once head coach Andy Lopez can iron out the early-season wrinkles that will surely come with a very young team, I think Arizona can compete in the Pac-10 and prove that last year was a fluke.

MVP: Jett Bandy

Looking to build on Collegiate Baseball

All-American honors, Bandy will be responsible for guiding a young pitching staff through the Pac-10 as he moves back to catcher. I think Bandy makes the biggest impact behind the plate and with his bat.

X-factor: Kyle Simon

The Friday-night assignment is Simon’s for the taking. If he can set the tone as the ace of the staff, the team will be successful.

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