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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Softball hosts New Mexico for doubleheader


Fresh off a weekend series it was unable to claim from the Cal Golden Bears, the Arizona softball team will play the New Mexico Lobos today in an early double header at Hillenbrand Stadium, beginning at 11 a.m.

The Lobos were added to the schedule following a series of rainouts that prevented the Wildcats (29-12, 8-7 Pac-12) from playing Baylor and the latter half of the Judi Garman Classic against BYU, Louisiana-Lafayette, and DePaul before Pac-12 play began. Arizona holds a 27-1 all-time record against New Mexico, and looks to further that streak today.

“It’s an important game, and they need to make sure they’re prepared and ready to play Arizona softball,” head coach Mike Candrea said.

“Arizona softball,” as defined by Candrea and players, is a three-pronged attack of solid pitching, good defense and timely hitting. The pitching for the Wildcats has by and large been the most successful aspect of their game, especially with the emergence of sophomore pitcher Shelby Babcock, whose 2.82 ERA is 0.48 runs lower than All-American Kenzie Fowler’s.

The hitting and defense have been less fruitful for Arizona. It seems every head-scratching loss can be traced back to a lack of energy and enthusiasm at the plate and in the field.

“I think it’s our mental focus on what our plans are for our approach,” senior catcher Lini Koria said. “The energy level we have, we need to find a happy medium to where we don’t fall down too low. I don’t know what it is; we just need to focus more.”

The Lobos limp into Hillenbrand after being pounded 9-1 at the hand of New Mexico State, which Arizona split a doubleheader with in March. Both the Wildcats and Lobos aim to use this matchup as a springboard to late-season success, especially for Arizona, which is trying to secure a home field advantage for postseason play.

“Right now, I think we’re making progress and moving in the right direction,” Candrea said. “I think this train is getting ready to leave the station pretty quickly and they better be ready to jump on it.”

The Wildcats started conference play at 0-4 before winning eight of the last 11 to improve to 8-7 in conference play with just nine games left on the conference slate locking themselves at fourth place in the Pac-12.

“Everybody realizes how good we are and how good we can be,” junior Brigette Del Ponte said. “We were right there with that No. 1 team. Everyone is feeling pretty good.”

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