Wounded softball opens season in Tempe
Arizona softball opens the 2013 season sans half its pitching staff and its catcher.
The No. 14 Wildcats kickoff the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. this weekend without freshman pitcher Nancy Bowling, sophomore catcher Chelsea Goodacre and senior pitcher Kenzie Fowler.
“It’s a challenge, but it is what is; you just gotta embrace it and move forward with it,” head coach Mike Candrea said.
Bowling, ESPN’s No. 7 ranked recruit out of high school, was hit by a line drive Saturday during a scrimmage and suffered a concussion. At first it was thought that she was concussion free, a diagnosis that was later changed.
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“The verdict was no concussion, when we left the hospital, but then she developed some symptoms and so she’s concussed right now,” Candrea said on Wednesday.
Without Bowling, Arizona will only have two of four pitchers this weekend for the five-gameslate against Northwestern, Bradley, Cal Poly, San Diego State and Florida. Juniors Shelby Babcock and Estela Piñon, a junior college transfer, will take the circle for the Wildcats.
Candrea thinks two pitchers will be enough, though.
Goodacre suffered an elbow injury in her right arm. She bats left-handed and throws right.
Candrea said she might be able to bat.
Fowler is recovering from off season back surgery.
UA opens the tournament with Northwestern on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and then Bradley at 5:30 p.m.
“I think we’re all really excited just to get going,” sophomore first baseman Hallie Wilson said. “Everybody’s been, like, counting down the days and counting down the hours, even as we get closer to just departing for Phoenix.”
On Saturday, the Wildcats face Cal Poly at 9 a.m. and San Diego State at 2 p.m. Sunday, UA closes out the trip with an 8:30 a.m. tilt with No. 15 Florida.
“We play Florida, Oklahoma — we play some pretty good teams in these tournaments, and it gives us a lot of experience,” senior shortstop Brigette Del Ponte said. “People finally get to see live pitching, and so that’s important for us.”
The Wildcats are traveling to the Kajikawa Classic for the seventh year in a row. Arizona has competed in Arizona State’s tournament, previously the ASU Invitational, Coca Cola Classic and Fiesta Bowl Classic, 25 times and owns a 108-18 all-time record there.
With Goodacre out and some Wildcats switching positions, like Del Ponte who moved from third base to short, UA will field an entirely newly line up from last year.
“I wasn’t really nervous, and I’m pretty excited to kinda switch it up a little bit,” said Wilson, who moved from the outfield to first base.