Home is where the heart is. For the Arizona softball team, it's where they play their best. After a winless road trip against Washington, the Wildcats came home and swept Oregon State. That sweep brings their home record to 14-0.
Before this series, many Wildcats were struggling, including outfielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. On the Wildcats’ last road trip, Palomino-Cardoza went five straight games without a hit, the longest of her career. She reversed those fortunes and batted .727 with two home runs, two doubles and a triple during the four-game series with Oregon State. It ended up being such a great performance that Palomino-Cardoza was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Palomino-Cardoza felt that she was overcomplicating things and that she just needed to slow down and refocus.
“Every good hitter goes through a slump,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “I just [needed] to find that confidence in myself and take it one pitch at a time … and just making sure my mind was at ease and not getting too far into my head.”
This seems to be the message to the team. Outfielder Janelle Meoño, who has led the Pac-12 in batting average as a lead-off hitter, felt that understanding the basics is the key to success.
“One of the things that has helped me the most … is to keep things simple,” Meoño said. “My at-bats have been really good because I have been able to slow the pitchers down and see the ball all the way through.”
One place the Wildcats have not been able to see much through is on the road. Even with their stellar home record, they are 4-5 on the road and 1-5 against ranked opponents. With that in mind, it would seem obvious that this team would analyze the film from their previous losses and on the upcoming pitchers they will face at Stanford, who have the second-best ERA in the conference. That is why it was shocking to hear Palomino-Cardoza admit she has watched no film on any Stanford pitchers.
“Honestly, I have not watched them pitch at all,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “In my six years, I have watched zero film.”
Meoño agrees with Palomino-Cardoza on film.
“I do not watch film either,” Meoño said.
For a team that has had no success on the road against ranked opponents and has struggled against quality pitching, one would think that watching film may help. Head coach Mike Candrea is more open about who wants to watch film and who does not.
“There’s some players who feed off of [watching film] and there are some who do not,” Candrea said. “I have never been one to put everyone in a room and force-feed them [game film] because each player is different.”
Arizona will face Stanford in a four-game series beginning Thursday, April 1, at 6 p.m. MST at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium.
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