UA SOFTBALL

Arizona softball: Arizona softball team preps for Cal after two strange games in Utah

2013-04-02T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:09:22Z Arizona softball: Arizona softball team preps for Cal after two strange games in UtahPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Estela Piñon and Mike Candrea agreed - the game was hers, even though it was running late into the night.

The junior pitcher kept running out into the circle Friday at Utah, even as the contest went into extra innings - and then into the ninth, 10th and, finally, the 11th frame.

"I told coach, 'This is my game. I'm going to start this game, and I'm going to finish this game,'" Piñon said. "He knew that I wanted to finish that game."

She did, leading the UA to a 6-5 win in 11 innings.

The Sunnyside High School alum threw 165 pitches over 11 innings.

In her last five innings -the seventh through 11th - the Utes were one swing away from ending the game with a walk-off hit.

"It was an intense game, going 11 innings," she said, "and knowing that they were one run away."

It will be remembered as an odd game in a strange two weeks for the Wildcats.

No. 21 Arizona (23-11, 3-3) hosts No. 4 Cal (27-3, 3-0) in a 5 p.m. doubleheader today at Hillenbrand Stadium, the start of a rare midweek series.

By the time the Golden Bears leave after Wednesday's 2 p.m. contest, the Wildcats will have played nine league games in 12 days.

"It's crazy," Candrea said.

He called it "a grueling stretch."

Pac-12 coaches decided to scrap the league midweek games, starting next year, Candrea said. He's in favor of the scheduling change.

To compensate for the schedule, the Wildcats took Sunday off and had a light, late-afternoon practice Monday.

"Sometimes when you make trips, it takes a couple days to get your feet back on the ground," Candrea said.

The competition doesn't make it any easier.

The Golden Bears are led by pitcher Jolene Henderson, whose 23-2 record and 0.90 ERA make her a candidate for the nation's top pitcher, if not player.

Cal has won 26 of its last 27 games.

"Henderson's good," Candrea said. "She's a kid with a lot of experience and a lot of big-game experience.

"She wheels and deals. That's a big part of their team right now - the pitching."

The Wildcats had one day of practice to prepare.

"We don't have much time," he said. "You have to have short-term memory."

Inside pitch

• The Wildcats did something Saturday that Candrea can't remember seeing before: They got only four hits, and lost, 8-4, against Utah's starting pitcher, Kayce Nieto, who threw all seven innings without recording a strikeout.

"It's the same thing - you never know what you're going to get," he said. "I was a little disappointed the last day. I don't think I've ever been in a game where a kid throws no strikeouts and you get four hits.

"She was getting a lot of ground balls. We were hitting ground balls right into their defense."

• Second baseman Chelsea Suitos sat Saturday with a sore arm, Candrea said, but the sophomore "should be all right."

Tonight

• Who: Cal at Arizona

• When: 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

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