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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Softball analysis: Down, but not out”

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Arizona senior K’Lee Arredondo has been here before.

In 2007, the then-left fielder was part of an Arizona Wildcat team that lost Game 1 of the championship series at the Women’s College World Series.

The 3-0 loss to Tennessee placed the Wildcats in a do-or-die position that kept the Arizona hanging on the brink of elimination.

In 2010, the now-shortstop faces the same circumstances — lose and go home without taking the NCAA title with her.

“”You know, as soon as the game was over, the girls walked in and I knew everyone was really down,”” Arredondo said. “”I’m sure some people were blaming themselves, and I just told the girls ‘pick your heads up. I don’t care if we just lost the game.’

“”My freshman year I lost that first game and we battled back and won two games in a row,”” Arredondo continued.

The Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to UCLA in Game 1 of the 2010 championship series in eight innings off a walk of home run by Megan Langenfeld. After regaining the lead off of thrilling back-to-back jacks by Arredondo and Stacie Chambers, the Bruins battled back to tie the score and eventually win 6-5.

The elimination situation is nothing new to the Wildcats this year. In the WCWS, Arizona has survived in four elimination games just to make it to the championship series.

“”This team, we’ve had our backs to the wall. We won four in a row to get here. I’ve seen this team do tremendous things here and I just told them that,”” Arredondo said of what she said to the team after the emotional rollercoaster in Game 1.

Arizona is no stranger to having its back against the wall in the post seaosn. It was just the fifth team to move on to the championship round after losing its opening round game.

“”This team has been very resilient all week and don’t expect anything different from them,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea. “”We just have to take one game at a time.””

Winning Game 1 would have been an emotional booster, especially given the dramatics of the game. But after the game, the Wildcats had a very even keel demeanor, following the example of Candrea.

“”As a team you lose a tough game like that and it takes a little time to absorb a little bit,”” Candrea said. “”But the big thing I wanted this group to know is that we’ve got to get ourselves turned around in 24 hours and (Game 1) is water under the bridge.””

No one has more experience or knows more about bouncing back in a championship series among the Arizona players than Arredondo, the lone link to the 2007 national championship team.

The senior in the starting lineup for Candrea and was one of just two players on this Arizona team that knew what it felt like to win a game in the WCWS prior to the Wildcats’ win over defending national champions Washington earlier this week.

She has been the backbone of the team’s emotional state this year. Arredondo is the last infielder to take line drills before every game. Her leadership is visible when the team huddles before stepping into the batter’s box.

And the message she and the rest of the team sent after the game was one of resilience and a determination to escape elimination once again.

“”We’ve fought so hard there’s no reason that we can’t beat this team two times in a row,”” Arredondo said. “”We just have to believe in ourselves and if we keep our heads down it’s not going to happen. That’s why I told everyone just keep your heads up and believe that you can do it.””

Arizona didn’t seem upset after Game 1. The players and Candrea just seemed resolute.

“”The big thing is stay together, do what you’ve been doing all year and I think what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,”” Candrea said. “”I think it’s a state of mind, kind of like being tired.””

For the record, Arredondo and the 2007 Arizona Wildcats defeated Tennessee twice to win take home the national title.

 

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