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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Who’s hot, who’s not for Arizona softball”

Koby Gray Upchurch / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Softball University of Arizona V Washinton
Koby Gray Upchurch
Koby Gray Upchurch / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball University of Arizona V Washinton

Who’s hot

Brigette Del Ponte. The Wildcats’ new cleanup hitter has been outstanding since moving back one spot in the lineup. The sophomore third baseman is now hitting .348 on the season with a team-leading 18 doubles, and her 15 home runs are second only to Stacie Chambers’ 16. Del Ponte was also the only Wildcat who managed to hit in every game against ASU and their ace Dallas Escobedo last weekend.

“”I had a goal to get a hit off Dallas because we played together when we were younger,”” said Del Ponte. “”I accomplished that goal. So I felt good about that.””

Who’s not

Stacie Chambers. Arizona’s leading home run hitter had one of the worst weekends in recent memory against the Sun Devils. The senior catcher went 0-10 with seven strikeouts last weekend. The disastrous series was particularly disappointing coming off her performance against Washington. Chambers hit .333 in that series with two home runs, one in each of the Wildcats’ victories.

For Chambers, it’s only a matter of time before her slump ends. “”It’s pretty frustrating,”” she said. “”I mean, I gotta keep playing though and keep working on it. I know I’ll come out of it eventually.””

As far as getting herself going again, Chambers’ strategy is simple. “”I try to keep my head clear. That’s the big thing. I just gotta stay positive.””

What’s working

The new lineup. Arizona has scored 32 runs in five games since head coach Mike Candrea implemented his new batting order. The 6.4 runs per game average is particularly impressive considering the Wildcats were blanked last Thursday by Escobedo, something that no amount of tinkering in the lineup would have prevented. With the new batting order, Candrea’s team has less reliance on the long ball for their runs. One of the main beneficiaries has been the new third hitter, Brittany Lastrapes. The senior has five RBIs in as many games, due in large part to the fact that she now hits after Lauren Schutzler and Karissa Buchanan, both of whom are on-base machines.

What isn’t working

Substitute pitchers. There isn’t really an alternative with Kenzie Fowler out, but Arizona’s platoon of position players taking the circle has been less than ideal. The trio of Victoria Kemp, Baillie Kirker and Brittany Lastrapes gave up eight earned runs in 6.2 innings of work against the Sun Devils. The three have given an admirable effort when called on to fill the void left by Fowler, but they are far from Pac-10 caliber pitchers. The difference in ability is particularly glaring when the subs are practicing alongside freshman pitcher Shelby Babcock. Kemp, Kirker and Lastrapes rely on off-speed pitches and talent in the field to work through innings, while Babcock throws as hard as anyone in the conference and regularly strikes out multiple batters per game.

They said it

“”I think it does (help us). You look back at any year, it’s amazing. People look at the eight national championships and they don’t realize what went into those and I think every season you have some times when you have to fight through and battle through some tough times. I’m hoping that this will be a little crack in the dam that we can plug up and keep moving forward.””

 — Head coach Mike Candrea, on whether there is anything positive to be gained from Kenzie Fowler’s injury.

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