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Arizona softball team finally looks ready to compete for a championship

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Ana Beltran | The Daily Wildcat Izzy Pacho (15) catching the ball and causing an out for Oklahoma. The night's game resulted in Arizona losing with a score of 6-4.

For the first time this season, the Arizona softball team looked comfortable away from home. It was the first road series the Wildcats have won all year. 

In a four-game sweep against Stanford on April 1-3, the Wildcats scored 22 runs and Stanford only scored four. These wins brought Arizona’s overall record to 22-5 and 8-5 on the road. 

“We just changed our mindset,” pitcher Hanah Bowen said. “Compared to how we play at home and away, we wanted to attack and jump on the first pitch.” 

While some pitchers may go through a few batters before they gain control, Bowen wants to start strong from the very beginning. 

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“I [want] to command the first pitch,” Bowen said. “I have the same approach that I do at home as I do away.”

Another pitcher who has great control for the Wildcats was Alyssa Denham. Denham pitched twice in the Stanford series, allowing zero runs in both outings and throwing a no-hitter in her first appearance on Thursday, April 1. 

“The most important thing is going right at every pitch and not looking too far down the road because that is when [a no-hitter] can be ruined,” Denham said. “[What is most important] is staying in the moment and not getting ahead of ourselves.”

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With the Wildcats now looking comfortable both at home and finally on the road, Denham felt this was the type of series the team needed if they want to continue to be competitive for a national championship.

“It was really great for our team to have this series,” Denham said. “We have to go through these moments together because to win, we have to be road warriors. This series was a good experience and a great way to carry over in our future games.”

While the softball team is firing on all cylinders, not every team on campus is as well put together. On Wednesday, April 7 it was announced that Sean Miller of the men’s basketball team would not return next season and was terminated immediately. When asked about the news, head coach Mike Candrea bid an emotional farewell.

“I’m very sad,” Candrea said. “[Miller] has become a good friend of mine and a mentor. He is someone I love watching work in practice and I thought he was an outstanding coach. I’m going to miss the guy. He was a players coach and did a lot for this program.”

After his goodbye, Candrea was all business once more. Even coming off their big weekend against Stanford Candrea feels the team can be even better before their upcoming homestand.

“We need to improve,” Candrea said. “We [are hoping] to have more quality at-bats by not chasing pitches out of the zone. There are a lot of things that we still must do to be a championship team. Your biggest opponent is yourself … and I think the rest will take care of itself.”

Arizona will open the Bear Down Fiesta against New Mexico State at Hillenbrand Stadium on Friday, April 9 at 6 p.m. MST.


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