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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Candrea sounds off on team

    Claire C. Laurence / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Softball lost to Pac-10 rival UCLA 8-3 on Sunday in Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
    Claire C. Laurence / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball lost to Pac-10 rival UCLA 8-3 on Sunday in Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

    softball notes

    There will be a new collegiate softball rankings list updated online today, and don’t expect Arizona to remain in the No. 2 spot.

    The team beat No. 14 Washington (28-12, 2-4 Pacific 10 Conference) 1-0 on Friday, but No. 3 UCLA (33-3, 5-1), handled Arizona (31-6, 2-3) twice, leaving no doubt that the Wildcats will drop in the overall rankings.

    Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is not a firm believer in midseason rankings, but after Sunday’s 8-3 beating, the coach expressed deep disappointment in his team, venting his frustration on camera and to reporters.

    “”We’re definitely at a crossroads right now,”” Candrea said. “”We need to change the personality with some of our kids. It’s unfortunate. We are at the lowest we could be at right now.””

    Candrea spent about 15 minutes speaking to his team after the game, longer than his usual postgame speech. As he talked to reporters, the team vented to each other for another 10 minutes on the left field grass.

    “”We have a week to change things around very quickly,”” Candrea said. “”I believe that nothing stays the same. It’s going to get better or its going to get worse, and right now we have to make a choice. We need a whole new approach to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.””

    There are 15 games left in the regular season for Arizona, all of which come against a stronger-than-ever Pac-10, and its 2-3 conference record does not make matters any easier, especially since six of the Pac-10’s eight teams are ranked in the top 10.

    “”This weekend we played the game like we were in awe,”” Candrea said. “”They just took it to us early in the games and stayed on top of us. I was proud (Sunday) that we were able to come back and tie the game up, but then we just gave it back away.””

    After Saturday’s 2-1 loss, Candrea tried to persuade his team to play with more intensity and even switched his lineup around, trying anything possible to salvage a game from the Pac-10-leading Bruins.

    He placed junior shortstop Kristie Fox in the leadoff spot, which bumped senior left fielder Autumn Champion down to second in the batting order. There is no question that Candrea is missing his regular leadoff hitter, junior center fielder Caitlin Lowe, who has been out for more than three weeks after breaking her hand. Lowe was selected as one of the 25 finalists for the Amateur Softball Association’s USA Player of the Year after posting a .490 batting average along with stealing 19 bases and a .523 on-base percentage and .677 slugging percentage.

    “”It’s hard because a lot of our team doesn’t know how competitive the Pac-10 is,”” Lowe said. “”But after this weekend, they realize anyone can come out and kick your butt.””

    Perhaps the strongest statement Candrea made Sunday questioned his players’ pride for the name on the front of their jerseys.

    “”It’s very disheartening,”” Candrea said. “”I’m used to kids in an Arizona uniform that play the game hard, and play the game as the front runner that are expected to win. I haven’t seen any real changes. Hopefully, this will bring it out.””

    Bannister Hurt?

    Arizona might have more cause for concern, as freshman first baseman Sam Bannister left Sunday’s game after injuring her ribs while diving to cut off an outfield throw. She has struggled a bit at the plate but has started in all 37 games for the Wildcats this year.

    Sophomore walk-on Danielle Rodriguez got her first at-bat of the year when she pinch hit for Bannister, striking out in the sixth inning.

    Bannister was replaced in the field by freshman Laine Roth, who saw her first action in the field this season.

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