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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball hosts Wildcat Invitational

Arizona+softball+shortstop+Kellie+Fox+%2829%29+prepares+to+swing+during+Arizonas+6-2+win+against+Loyola+Chicago+at+Hillenbrand+Stadium+on+Feb.+14.
Tanner Clinch

Arizona softball shortstop Kellie Fox (29) prepares to swing during Arizona’s 6-2 win against Loyola Chicago at Hillenbrand Stadium on Feb. 14.

It’s often the case that a team learns more about itself on the road than at home. The lack of fan support and friendly confines leads teammates and coaches to spend long hours together. For the No. 15 ranked Arizona softball team, that was the case last weekend at the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. 

“We compete and we battle till the very end, and I think we saw that in all the games [last] weekend,” Arizona shortstop Kellie Fox said. “We gave it our all … till the very last pitch, the very last out. So I was really proud of my team for sticking through it.”

The Wildcats went 2-3 over the five games at the classic to drop to No. 15 overall in the nation and to 11-3 on the season. However, the Wildcats have a chance to bounce back this weekend with a relatively weak schedule of games.

Arizona hosts Colorado State, UTEP, UC Riverside, Texas-Arlington and Bryant (twice) in this season’s Wildcat Invitational. 

The last time Arizona hosted six opponents over a weekend came just a few weeks ago in the Hillenbrand Invitational. The team went 6-0 during that stretch and is hoping to do the same this weekend.

“We’re going to go out there, give it our best, fight, compete and just play hard.” Arizona outfielder/pitcher Trish Parks said.

The Wildcat Invitational has been extremely kind to Arizona over the years, as the team has gone 89-3 all-time in the event — not to mention the Wildcats haven’t lost in the event since 2008 against Creighton. 

As Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea looks to continue that legacy, he has a deep and versatile offense on the field. Nine of the regular rotation players have batting averages above .300, and one who doesn’t, catcher Chelsea Goodacre, just happens to be hitting .268 and leads the team in RBIs with 22. 

Outfielder Eva Watson leads the team with a .517 batting average, and fellow outfielder Katiyana Mauga leads the team with five home runs. Six different Wildcats have hit home runs this year. 

As the field looks to combat Arizona this weekend, that offense paired with a, so far, reliable pitching staff has the team feeling confident. 

“I have faith in my defense, and they have faith in me,” Arizona pitcher Michelle Floyd said. “They have faith in the whole pitching staff.”

One interesting fun fact about the weekend is the return of former UA softball player and current Texas-Arlington coach Kristie Fox. In addition to being a former Wildcat, she also happens to be Kellie Fox’s sister. 

This marks the second-consecutive year the Fox sisters will meet at Hillenbrand Stadium — only this year is the first time they should actually face off. Last season’s scheduled game was rained out and robbed the crowd of seeing the sisters’ teams go head to head. 

This year, weather.com forecasts partly cloudy skies with a high of 71 degrees Fahrenheit and some wind. In other words, perfect weather to play softball. 

“We weren’t our absolute best [last] weekend, but we did a ton of great things,” Floyd said. “I think it’s just taking everything from this past weekend and making it even better this upcoming weekend. No matter who we’re playing, we have to come out the same. We have to come out strong.” 

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