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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball travels to No. 1 California

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs San Diego State University

Head Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea could hardly contain his emotion as he talked about what this weekend against Cal — which begins today at 3 p.m. in Berkeley, Calif. — will mean to his team.

Calling it nothing short of a challenge, Candrea has been disappointed with the roller coaster of energy that shows up at the field from game to game.

A mid-week series against an unranked Pac-12 newcomer Utah was no different.

“All I can say right now is it’s sitting right in front of them and life’s full of choices and they’ve got a choice to make. So they better be ready to come out and play their best softball here in the next three days,” Candrea said.

Despite sweeping the Utes, the Wildcats did not take full advantage of the series in their execution. In Wednesday’s game, Arizona experienced a five-inning lull in which it was unable to set a comfortable lead. The Wildcats almost gave up the game in the sixth with back-to-back errors on the left side of the infield, usually the most solid defense in the diamond.

“I don’t know if we get too complacent but every inning, every bat, every pitch — I don’t feel like we’re as intense as we should be,” pitcher Kenzie Fowler said.

The errors and a walk helped the Utes load the bases with two outs in the sixth, a close call for the Wildcats, though they escaped unscathed.

“We did enough to win but that’s about all I can say,” Candrea said. “I can’t say that we played great softball and so this weekend is going to be a challenge for us and it will be a really good eye-opener to see where we’re really at.”

A comfortable transition from a mid-week series to a weekend against the best competition in the country is critical. The matchup will be telling of where Arizona stands for the remainder of the season.

Cal has only lost once this season, on the road to Hawaii in the 10th inning. The Golden Bears have won 14 straight since.

In Pac-12 play, the only series the Wildcats have lost was the opener to ASU. The Washington series last weekend was a step in the right direction as the team took its first Pac-12 away series against the No. 3 Huskies, another tough opponent. Mid-week series at home against Stanford and Utah have been opportunities for the Wildcats to work on inconsistencies. Despite wins, they have highlighted that the team is still struggling.

“If you look overall right now, we just have to make a choice to either start playing this game with some fight and drive and competitiveness or its going to get tough,” Candrea said.

All components need to come together this weekend as Arizona will be playing away from home and in the lion’s den against the top team in the country.

“This is an opportunity for us to really make a statement that can help us later on come close season but you have to go out there and earn it,” Candrea said.

Today’s game is followed by a game at 1 p.m. on Saturday and another at noon on Sunday.
“We’re going to see what we’re made of basically. If we choose to arrive it’s going to be a knock-out ground-out type of weekend,” Fowler said.

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