Arizona softball hosts second home tournament of season

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After going 2-3 last weekend, some home cooking may be just what Arizona softball needs, as it hosts the Wildcat Invitational on home turf this weekend.

No. 21 Arizona (10-5) will host its second and final regular season tournament this Friday through Sunday, welcoming Portland State, UC Riverside and Boston University for the Wildcat Invitational, a three-day, 10-game tourney.

“It’s always good to be home,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “We look forward to playing at Hillenbrand in front of our crowd, and it beats traveling, that’s for sure.”

Last weekend in Palm Springs, Calif., Arizona lost 5-0 to No. 1 Oklahoma, 6-0 to Ohio State and 3-0 to No. 13 LSU. The Wildcats beat Long Beach State 4-3 and Loyola Marymount 5-3.

“It’s been a tough week and I think we’re all ready for it to be the weekend again so we can prove to Coach that we’re ready and we’re going to play our best,” sophomore first baseman Hallie Wilson said.

The Wildcats only scored nine runs in the five games last week, despite getting 27 hits and drawing 15 walks. Arizona hit just .128 with runners in scoring position.

Arizona drove in runs one out of nine times with a runner on third and had fewer than two outs last week.

“We’ve tried to raise the bar a little bit in practice, a little more focus, and talked a lot about having a plan at the plate,” Candrea said. “So we’ve kind of changed the structure of our BP and things and we’ll see how it works.”

Friday, Arizona opens the tournament with UC Riverside (5-9) at 4 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. game with Boston (1-4).

Candrea said that UCR has a new coaching staff but is well-prepared.

“I think it will definitely be a good challenge for us,” Candrea said. “I don’t think we can even worry about opponents right now. We just need to worry about ourselves.”

This is the 18th Wildcat Invitational. It started in 1988 and then was staged every year from 1996 to 2011. Arizona is 84-3 all-time in the Wildcat Invite, and its last loss was 2-1 to Creighton in 2008. Arizona is also 84-3 in its other tournament, the Hillenbrand Invitational.

On Saturday, the Wildcats face BU again at 4 p.m., followed by Portland State (4-11) at 6 p.m.

“Boston U, I don’t know much about them,” Candrea said. “Hopefully they’ve been in the snow for a while, get out here and don’t know what the dirt looks like. But they’ve had some tradition of postseason play.”

On Sunday, Arizona wraps up the Wildcat Invitational with PSU again, this time at 11 a.m.

Candrea called Portland State a “good team.” Though they went 0-4 last week at No. 3 ASU, the Vikings lost one game 6-5 in 12 innings and another one just 4-3.

“So they’ve got some pitching and some hitters, the middle of their lineup, so they’re a very formidable team,” Candrea said.

After starting the season 1 for 10, Wilson has gone 17 for 34 to lead the team in batting with a .409 average.

“I’ve been coming out to practice early every day and just trying to focus more on my swing and doing my best to do what I can for the team,” Wilson said.

Live video for Arizona’s games is available on pac-12.com and live audio will be available on its USTREAM channel.


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