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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Softball drops final game of Wildcat Invitational

    Prior to this season’s commencement, Arizona softball interim head coach Larry Ray said the current Wildcats could quite possibly make up one of the better power hitting teams in the school’s history.

    In this weekend’s Wildcat Invitational at Hillenbrand Stadium, No. 7 Arizona (15-5) showed a glimpse of what Ray was talking about – at least in the first four games.

    After beating both Creighton and La Salle twice before the tournament’s finale against Creighton Saturday night, Arizona had outscored the two opponents 55-3 – showing exactly what the offense is made of.

    Nevertheless, it seemed like Arizona had nothing left in the scoring tank in the finale, as it fell to Creighton 2-1 to close out the tournament. The loss broke a 13-game Arizona winning streak.

    “”(This weekend’s offensive output) was tremendous,”” Ray said. “”I thought (in the last game) that we were swinging at a lot of bad pitches. … It was a good lesson though, so we are going to have to cut down our swings against decent pitching.””

    Of Arizona’s four victories – which was one short of its second consecutive weekend sweep of its own tournament – Arizona won by an enforced run-rule twice.

    The Wildcats beat La Salle 18-2 and 16-0 on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and knocked off Creighton 15-1 Friday evening before eventually losing the tournament finale.

    “”I don’t know if they are going to score double-digit runs against many teams in our conference,”” Ray said, “”but it is nice that we got to use the entire bench and get many kids some playing time.””

    If the Wildcats can take something away from the tournament – beside the pleasure of winning four of five games – it’s that they finally harnessed its capabilities power-wise.

    In the five games of the tournament, Arizona hit 15 home runs, many with people on to bust games wide open. Backed by a 52 total hits, Arizona improved its team batting average from .310 to .326 in the five games, as the 15 long balls tied the 2001 record for most home runs in a tournament.

    Ray said the added power in this year’s lineup may be a combination of both players seeing pitches better and a moderately weaker schedule.

    “”When hitting is going well, I feel like they have a tendency to be a little more aggressive when they are hitting well,”” Ray said.

    Possibly the most impressive – and surprising – was senior catcher Callista Balko’s production of power. After hitting 10 homeruns last season, Balko smashed five long balls in the tournament, including a grand slam in Saturday’s game against La Salle to break it wide open.

    “”Some weekends you see the ball bigger than others and then the next weekend you aren’t doing so well,”” Balko said. “”It is a roller coaster and you just need to make sure you are staying up the whole time. Luckily I was seeing it well this weekend.””

    Aside from a few rough outings, it hasn’t been the Arizona pitching staff that has proved to be the downfall the losses this season.

    Besides Arizona’s opening day loss when it scored five runs against then-No. 3 Northwestern, the Wildcats have scored less than two runs in all of their losses this season.

    Arizona’s pitching stayed at the championship caliber in the tournament, as their only loss came when scoring just one run.

    “”We just didn’t have our hitters hitting well in the last game,”” said freshman pitcher Lindsey Sisk, who has won eight games in a row, including a no-hitter in Saturday’s victory over La Salle. “”The defense has been playing great behind us, so that really helps the pitchers out.””

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