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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Softball ready to start Pac-12 play

Keith Hickman-Perfetti
UA Softball vs New Mexico State on 21 March 2012. After an uninspired beginning UA won 6-3 after scoring five runs in the sixth inning. Keith Hickman-Perfetti/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

The No. 14 Arizona softball team is running out of time to work out the kinks before it gets thrown into Pac-12 play this weekend in a series against No. 5 ASU in Tempe, Ariz.

“We’ve still got some growing to do physically, mentally and emotionally, so we just need to keep plugging away,” head softball coach Mike Candrea said. “We’re getting into that part of the year where you have to compete.”

The cancellation of three games in the Judi Garman Classic last week due to weather — and splitting the series against an unranked New Mexico State at home — has put the team in overdrive on the practice field.

“In practice we get a lot of reps, it’s about knowing how important defense is and we just have that competitive spirit,” senior third baseman Jessica Spigner said, “We know we can’t afford to make any mistakes and because we have that in the back of our minds, it will help us prepare for ASU.”

ASU is arguably one of the toughest teams Arizona will face in the Pac-12. Candrea has stressed solid pitching, defense and timely hitting all season.

“In big games, that’s what it takes,” Candrea said.

“The Pac-12 is all about fighting and about who comes out on top and there’s not going to be an inning we can take off,” Spigner said. “It’s going to be a fight up until the very last pitch, and these Pac-12 teams are really good — we can’t afford to take any team lightly.”

Pitchers Kenzie Fowler and Shelby Babcock are important pieces of the Wildcats’ on-field tempo.
“We are going to need two solid pitchers to get where we want to be this season,” said Candrea. “I really think we have that right now.”

Both have proven they can pitch effectively in close matchups.

“I like battling and staying in there, (it) really helps my confidence,” Babcock said. “I just have to think I’m finishing the game.”

At the plate, there has been a new hitter coming up in the clutch almost every game. Wildcats such as Hallie Wilson and Brigette Del Ponte have helped pick up the team.

“We all work hard for each other and we all pick each other up. We know no one’s going to be perfect every game and so it needs to be someone different every game,” Spigner said.

Wilson had back-to-back hits to center field and gave the Wildcats a chance to come back for a win. After successfully executing crucial at-bats in the second game of the doubleheader against New Mexico State, Arizona is looking to ride the confidence they’ve gained into the ASU series.

“Physical errors are going to happen but mental errors we just can’t afford,” Spigner said. “So the point is to stop the bleeding when it does happen and really get the next play right away.”

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