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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball comes up short

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

For the first time since 1988, a Mike Candrea-coached Wildcats team is missing out on a trip to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series.

In a two-game Super Regional series held May 27 and 28, Arizona was shocked by No. 13 Oklahoma, which routed the Wildcats in two games by a combined score of 11-2.

“”We got beat by a better team,”” Candrea said after the series. “”(Oklahoma) came in here and played well. They played with calm confidence and they executed the game when they needed to.””

Not receiving timely hits and allowing the Sooners to put together big innings doomed Arizona during the Super Regional.

Over the two games, the Wildcats went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 22 runners stranded. The Wildcats only had one less hit (15) than the Sooners (16), but could not take advantage of Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts’ mistakes.

“”This game, we knew we were close every inning, and every inning we thought we were going to get through,”” said senior center fielder Lauren Schutzler. “”In the Super Regionals, it’s very hard to score runs when you’re down five. It’s a really tough place for a team to come back from.””

Sophomore pitcher Kenzie Fowler was unable to avoid big innings in both games, giving up four runs in the fourth inning of game one and three runs in the fourth inning of game two. In both of those innings, fielding errors, which allowed the innings to continue, compounded Fowler’s struggles.  

Ricketts was one out away from pitching two consecutive complete game shutouts before giving up a two-run home run to Wildcat first baseman Lini Koria in the bottom of the seventh. The late-game rally ended there for the Wildcats, as right fielder Karissa Buchanan grounded out to end Arizona’s season.

After the game, Candrea had some harsh words for his team.

“”The weekend found our holes,”” he said. “”We definitely had some weaknesses in our lineup. And I think to be a College World Series team you have to have production one through nine. We may have 20 players, but we don’t have a lot of depth. We’ve got way too much dead weight on the team and that’s going to change.””

In the past 25 years, the UA softball team has been a model of consistency under Candrea. The Wildcats have won nine national championships since 1991, and have made 22 appearances in the Women’s College World Series.

This is Arizona’s first missed Women’s College World Series since 2004, when Candrea was away coaching the Team USA Olympic squad.

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