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Key takeaways from Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea’s virtual press conference

The+Arizona+softball+team+warms+up+during+a+game+against+Southern+Utah+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+21%2C+in+Tucson%2C+Ariz.+The+Wildcats+won+with+an+ending+score+of+10-1.
Caitlin Claypool

The Arizona softball team warms up during a game against Southern Utah on Sunday, Feb. 21, in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats won with an ending score of 10-1.

University of Arizona softball team’s head coach Mike Candrea held a virtual press conference on Wednesday, March 24.

The Wildcats were swept by Washington in two games at Husky Softball Stadium over the weekend. They are currently riding a three-game losing streak and seek their first Pac-12 conference series win this weekend at home against Oregon State, a team that they narrowly defeated via walk-off fashion the last time they met in late February.

Judging from their previous matchup against the Beavers, coach Candrea insisted that his team can’t afford to overlook their opponent considering the potential problems they may pose. 

“They’re a very balanced team right now and playing well,” Candrea said. “You can’t beat yourself; you have to beat them. I think right now if you look at Oregon State, they’re mature in the circle. Those kids were young the last time we played them, and there’s some better athletes in their lineup. If we’re putting the ball in play consistently, then I think good things can happen for us.”

Here are some key takeaways from the rest of the press conference.

Janelle Meono’s impact on the team is more than evident

Top of the order hitter Janelle Meono has been a very consistent hitter for Arizona so far this season. She’s currently slashing an astonishing .500 batting average while getting on base and stealing them at a very high rate. The Wildcats’ swiss army knife can practically do it all as she continues to give opposing pitchers more than enough headaches.

Coach Candrea is in love with the versatility and different intangibles that Meono provides for his squad.

“She’s a short gamer so she’s very short to the ball,” Candrea said. “She’s just trying to put the ball in play. And sometimes in situations against good pitching, that’s a good approach to have. She has great hand-eye coordination, has a pretty good knowledge of the strike zone, and right now, she’s getting some pitches, putting a good swing on it and getting good results.”

The Wildcats will certainly need their offensive tone-setter down the stretch as they get deeper into their conference schedule and play very formidable teams. The thought of losing Meono for any period of the season could prove costly for Arizona as they would miss her smart at-bats, timely hitting, speed and excellent baserunning. She has been a real difference maker and one of the key contributors to Arizona’s early success this season.

RELATED: Play Ball: the Daily Wildcat baseball & softball podcast [S1 Ep4] Arizona softball and baseball teams look to rebound this weekend

Dejah Mulipola confident team can shake off current slump

Taking a road trip all the way across the country can be difficult for any team, especially when you’re scheduled to play seven games in eight days. The Wildcats didn’t look like their dominant selves while in Florida and came off as just pedestrian. In some of those games, they gave no indication of why they were a top-five team at the time and were fortunate to leave the Sunshine State with a 4-3 record for the road trip.

After the conclusion of their long trip out east, it became apparent that Arizona left their confidence in baggage claims at the airport as they went on to get swept in two games in their previous series against Washington. At the moment, the Wildcats certainly don’t mirror the team that left for Florida just two weeks ago.

Mulipola is more than aware of the team’s current skid and offered some insights on what she and some of the seniors do to stay hungry.

“Obviously, we’re in a tough spot right now,” Mulipola said. “Our senior class, we share a lot of stuff whether we read books or find articles. I’m reading this book called ‘Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable,’ and it has bits and pieces about the game in it. I’ll send screenshots in our GroupMe just to keep our team in a positive headspace, and I think that’s the biggest thing right now. Especially when we are in a three-game losing streak.

Mulipola is happy that their bind is happening right now and not later into the season.

“It’s a game of failure, it’s going to happen,” Mulipola said. “The good thing is that it’s happening right now in March. I think just us as teammates, getting together and keeping that morale high whether you as a person believe that or whether we as a team believe that. You’ve got to fake it till you make it sometimes, and I think keeping a positive headspace is what’s important right now.”

Arizona will look to get back on track and look more like the team that started the season at 10-0 as they host Oregon State for their Pac-12 home opener on Friday, March 26 at 6 p.m. MST. The four-game series will conclude on Sunday, March 28 at 12 p.m. MST. 


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