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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Back in business

Hallie Bolonkin/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Hallie Bolonkin
Hallie Bolonkin/Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats softball team is in the midst of a total program mindset change right before the Pacific 10 Conference season starts.  

After what third baseman Brigette Del Ponte called a “”reality check”” at the Judi Garman Classic, head coach Mike Candrea sat down with each player individually and asked for a change.

“”I basically told them the other day, I want you to look at this as a job because it is a job,”” Candrea said. “”We’re giving you $150,000 to get an education, damn it, we expect something in return.

“”I think basically it was kind of the nutshell,”” he said. “”What are you doing to help this team get out of this funk?””

The Wildcats answered the call during its final weekend of non-conference play against the California State University, Northridge Matadors, sweeping the series in run-ruled games 8-0 on Friday, 10-1 on Saturday and 16-5 on Sunday.

In the process of the total program upheaval, Arizona altered anything it could to change its approach.

The Wildcats altered their mentality, their cheering style and even how they prepare for games.

Sophomore pitcher Kenzie Fowler used a blue headband color for the fist time ever as a Wildcat. She also donned eye black on Friday night when she threw a combined no-hitter with fellow pitcher Shelby Babcock.

In addition to the accessory changes, Fowler is also making adjustments to her pitching style — again.

“”I’m just tweaking it a little to see what feels good for me at this point,”” she said. “”I’ve kind of struggled finding myself the last few weeks, so it felt good (on Friday).””

The Arizona dugout was noticeably louder throughout the weekend and mirrored a small arm motion each Wildcat batter performed after recording a hit.

“”We’re playing with excitement,”” Del Ponte said. “”We’re using more swag. It was just something we needed.””

Although the Wildcats’ changes may seem trivial, they’re working.

The Wildcats hit eight home runs by five different players highlighted by Kristen Arriola and Baillie Kirker’s grand slams in the first inning of Sunday’s game.

Every Wildcat starter had at least one hit on the weekend, something that was visibly missing from the Arizona stat line last weekend.

With conference play close on the horizon, Candrea said the change was both necessary and effective during the weekend series with the Matadors.

“”The game is played between the lines and one of the big parts of it is the passion you have for the game,”” Candrea said. “”You can’t lose that.””

Chambers watch

The senior catcher needs just six more home runs to break the Arizona record for home runs and 12 to break the NCAA-all time record. Chambers hit her 80th career home run on Friday against the Matadors. She is just the fifth all-time player to reach the 80 home run milestone.

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