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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball touts balanced bats

    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Colin Darland
    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

    Much has changed with Arizona softball over the years, but one thing has always remained the same: hitting and offensive consistency.

    “”We pretty much have the same philosophy and try to put our best hitters up as often as possible,”” said UA assistant coach Larry Ray. “”Things haven’t changed a whole lot.””

    This season, Arizona’s offense has shown to be a well-balanced combination of speed and power. Like the balanced breakfast of an athlete, the right combination of players in the right order can make the difference when it comes to putting runs across the plate.

    Arizona has a hitting specialist in head coach Mike Candrea. He has conducted national hitting clinics, and has refined his technique to get a player focused on being productive offensively. As the hitting and third base coach for Arizona, Candrea motivates his players to step up to the plate with self-belief. In stressing the importance of team offense, he knows it can’t be done by one of two players alone.

    “”Hitting is timing and hitting is seeing the ball well,”” he said. “”In the long run, when you have two or three kids swinging the bat, the confidence grows throughout the team.””

    In only 18 games this season, the confidence has run up and down the Wildcat lineup. Arizona has already tallied 131 RBIs. Brittany Lastrapes, Lauren Schutzler and Stacie Chambers are all batting over .400. Lastrapes also leads the team with nine doubles. All throughout the lineup, Candrea is seeing the scoring ability manifest into run production. The combination of speed and power gives UA a double punch when it comes to offensive potential. The striking ability comes early in the lineup with speedy players who get on base and set up the power hitters.

    “”I really believe the key to our success offensively is to have balance throughout the lineup and not rely on one or two people,”” Candrea said.

    The players realize hitting is contagious and hitting early is important for the Wildcats. It breaks open the game and gives the pitchers run support and the UA is 8-0 when scoring in the first inning. The order of the lineup is also important and is specifically designed to build momentum. The UA has the ability to play small ball, but also go deep and put up big runs on the scoreboard.

    “”Well, we only have two slappers in our lineup sometimes, so we have a lot of people who can really hit the ball,”” Schutzler said.

    With the return of shortstop hamstring-hampered K’lee Arredondo, who led the Wildcats last year in doubles, the production from the middle of the lineup should also increase, as it also includes freshman Lini Koria, who is tied for second among the home run list with Sam Banister at four.

    Scoring runs is not only helpful for the offensive side of the ballgame but it also gives a cushion to the pitchers and players. Arizona is 14-0 when scoring six or more runs in a game. Much of the offensive show has come at home, where UA is a perfect 6-0.

    Arizona has also belted 29 home runs already this season. Nine belong to catcher Stacie Chambers, who has also tallied a nation-leading 33 RBIs.

    “”Stacie is a good hitter and when she gets good pitches and puts good swings on it, good things are going to happen,”” Candrea said. “”I’m very, very pleased with the way she’s swinging the bat right now.””

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