Red-hot Arizona softball brings the heat to invitational
Two more non-conference wins has the Arizona softball team off to one of its better starts in recent memory.
No. 14 Arizona (15-1) looks to continue that momentum Friday in a double-header at Hillenbrand Stadium against Longwood at 4 p.m. and Valparaiso at 6 p.m. The games are the first two of five he UA will play during the Wildcat Invitational over the weekend.
The Wildcat Invitational takes place Friday to Sunday and features Texas-Arlington, Iowa and Indiana in addition to Longwood and Valparaiso.
“Hopefully we keep the energy up and take it one game at a time,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “I know you don’t want to hear that, but that’s kind of the way it is.”
Senior pitcher Shelby Babcock catches the ball after striking out an UTEP player during Arizona's 11-1 win against UTEP at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Tuesday. Arizona scored 6 runs during the first inning.
Two more Arizona games on Saturday will give the home fans yet another chance to watch the Wildcats play. Texas-Arlington is first at 4 p.m., followed by Iowa at 6 p.m.
Several of Arizona’s games this season have begun in the early afternoon and concluded in the night. Having so many games near sunset provides a different look of the ball when compared to a midday game. Shadows had to be taken into account but, when looking at batting statistics, that hasn’t affected the Arizona batters.
The Wildcats are near the top of the Pac-12 Conference in several offensive categories such as team batting average (second), runs (second), home runs (second) and hits (fourth). Take into account that Arizona has already played five games against ranked opponents and the numbers get more impressive.
Leading the Wildcats in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, hits, walks and on-base percentage is redshirt junior shortstop Kellie Fox.
Fox, a UCLA transfer, has solidified the middle of the batting order with her ability to drive the ball out of the park and advance runners when she’s not hitting homers. Hitting out of the three spot is never easy, but Fox said she’s seeing the ball great and loves the direction the team is going.
“It’s a great feeling just to come out strong and see the ball big,” Fox said. “You just have to continue to see it and stay with it as long as you can.”
Arizona’s five Wildcat Invitational games conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Indiana comes in to the invitational struggling to put runs on the board offensively and unable to keep runs off the board defensively. The Hoosiers have struggled to a 1-12-1 record this season and won’t get a break this weekend, especially against Arizona.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555