Arizona softball hopes to bounce back against UCLA for Hillenbrand's 20th anniversary
After being no-hit and the victims of a perfect game during Oregon’s sweep last weekend, the No. 22 Arizona softball team hopes to bounce back as it takes on No. 18 UCLA at Hillenbrand Stadium in a three-game series that starts tonight.
Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPN 2 and Friday and Saturday’s games will be shown on ESPN U and the Pac-12 Networks, respectively.
UCLA holds a 66-54 game advantage over the Wildcats, most recently taking two of three against Arizona in 2012 in Los Angeles. The Bruins have won seven of the last eight series dating back to 2005.
“I think we have to just get rid of some distractions we are bringing into the game,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “At the point we are at right now, it’s a mental game. We have to get rid of the tension and negative thoughts. I know we have the potential and if we come out with positive thoughts, I think we can execute.”
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA softball beat Washington Sunday afternoon after losing to them on Saturday. The will face Washington again Monday night at 7:00
The Bruins are coming fresh off a big series win against No. 8 Cal as UCLA took two of three last week against the Golden Bears to snap a streak of four consecutive Pac-12 series losses.
UCLA will be led offensively by B.B. Bates and Stephany LaRosa and will depend on Ally Carda in the circle.
The Wildcats need to use caution when facing the heart of the Bruin’s lineup, as Bates is hitting .331 with ten doubles, 15 home runs and 45 RBI. LaRosa will enter play in possession of a .368 average with eight doubles, three triples, nine home runs and 35 RBI.
After being shut out last weekend against Oregon, Arizona hopes to have some luck off Carda. She holds a 19-7 record this year with a 2.39 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 146.1 innings pitched.
“This weekend I’m expecting a lot of adjustments,” sophomore Chelsea Suitos said. “I expect us to have a better game plan at the plate and execute. Personally, I want to lay off the rise ball and be able to get ahead early in the count.”
Suitos will look to contribute to the Wildcat’s offense. She has led Arizona this month, hitting .411 (12-34) over her last 12 games.
Sophomore Hallie Wilson will also look to put a dent in UCLA’s defense, as she currently leads the Wildcats with a .415 batting average in conference games.
“I’m hoping that we can put last week in perspective,” Wilson said. “We need to come back stronger, fire up our bats and get some hits. I’m excited to play one of our oldest rivals in UCLA.”
With the Wildcats hungry for redemption, Candrea said he hopes this upcoming series can provide the turnaround the team needs.
“[This weekend] can really be a turning point for us,” Candrea said. “It’s a weekend that we are home and celebrating Hillenbrand’s 20th. I’m glad that we’re here and I think we are really going to deliver if we come out strong and get the first one tomorrow.”
This weekend will also mark history as Hillenbrand Stadium celebrates its 20th anniversary and welcomes Wildcat softball alumni back to its hallowed grounds. Over the past 20 years of the stadium’s history, the Wildcats have won 580 out of 646 games, compiling an impressive .898 winning percentage.