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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cats host the Clan

    Arizona infielder Sam Banister tags out a Minnesota baserunner during a 10-4 Wildcat win at Hillenbrand Stadium on March 6. The Wildcats posted a 5-1 record during the Hillenbrand Invitational over the weekend.
    Arizona infielder Sam Banister tags out a Minnesota baserunner during a 10-4 Wildcat win at Hillenbrand Stadium on March 6. The Wildcats posted a 5-1 record during the Hillenbrand Invitational over the weekend.

    The Arizona softball team will play its final two games of a one-week, 10-game marathon as the Wildcats face Simon Fraser University today at 4 and 6 p.m., at Hillenbrand Stadium.

    Hailing from British Columbia, the Clan drove in more than nine runs per game en route to winning five of six games since Thursday. For perspective, in a February match against No. 4 UCLA, the Clan lost 13-2.

    “”It’s a good opportunity for us to play more,”” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “”At this stage, a little rest might have been good. We’re a little banged up, but it’ll give some other kids a chance to play.””

    Among the injured players is shortstop K’Lee Arredondo, who has a lingering hamstring injury. Resting her could give playing time to freshman Kristen Arriola at second base or Karissa Buchanan in the outfield, depending on where utility player Sam Banister is placed.

    Another interesting position to watch is the starting pitcher. Both Sarah Akamine (10-3) and Lindsey Sisk (10-2) have had up and down campaigns, but senior Jennifer Martinez looked solid in her first win as a Wildcat in Sunday’s nightcap against Saint Joseph’s.

    Candrea admits he is running out of time to find an ideal nine-player lineup, but this match-up against Simon Fraser will give Arizona more at-bats against a competitive squad. And although the No. 13 Wildcats are the obvious favorites, Saturday’s unexpected loss to Creighton served notice that if they come out flat, the young Wildcats could lose on any given day.

    “”We’re trying to find the right buttons to push, and I’m running out of buttons,”” Candrea said. “”I think this team needs to grow up in a lot of areas. It’s just a matter of being aware of it and being willing to put the effort in to change.””

    “”It’s a long process, and you’ve got to have patience,”” he added. “”I’m a patient guy, but sometimes I get impatient when there isn’t change.””

    The team’s main concerns lie in the players’ emotional inconsistency, which is partially due to the lack of confidence once the team hits the field, Candrea said. He will have the daunting task of finding a lineup that is completely focused and hungry for a win.

    “”We have to find nine people who have to give it everything that they have and not worry about failing,”” Candrea said after the Creighton loss. “”There were some times we looked defeated out there, and I’m not used to seeing that in an Arizona uniform. I told them if I could, I’d put them in T-shirts.””

    Catcher Stacie Chambers said carrying momentum from today’s relatively low-key games will serve as a “”pump-up”” for an increasingly competitive schedule in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully, the games will rest nagging injuries for some of the veterans while giving Candrea a better idea of who his gamers will be.

    As for avoiding a letdown against Simon Fraser, Chambers said the goal is quite simple.

    “”We just need to come out there like we did (against St. Joseph’s),”” Chambers said. “”We come out flat sometimes, but when we’re all hitting, it’s hard to stop us.””

    Leles honored

    Senior Jenae Leles was named one of the finalists for the annual Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Friday. Both she and teammate Laine Roth were on the preseason watch-list for the award.

    Among a total of 30 other softball seniors, the award goes to the athlete who stays in school and excels both on and off the field. The areas of positive traits that the committee looks for in choosing the candidates are: classroom, character, community and competition.

    The list will be cut to 10 players during the season and the final decision will be based on ballots sent to coaches, media members and fans. The winner will be announced at the 2009 Women’s College World Series.

    The award was first given to NCAA men’s basketball players but has expanded into eight other collegiate sports, hoping to inspire athletes to stay in school and use their athletic fame to make an impact in their respective communities.

    Although it has only been in softball since 2007, former Arizona outfielder Caitlin Lowe won the first Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award that year.

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