UA SOFTBALL

Arizona softball: As practice begins, Cats have new look

2012-09-27T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:35:57Z Arizona softball: As practice begins, Cats have new lookPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Half of Mike Candrea's team will participate in their first-ever college softball practice today, when the Arizona Wildcats formally launch the fall season.

Eight of the UA's 16 players are new.

After weeks of individual workouts, the coach is eager to see what he's got.

"I think there's some really good energy," he said. "I like the work ethic that I've seen so far."

Here's a look at what he'll see:

• Fresh faces. Two of the eight newcomers - pitcher Estela Pinon, a Sunnyside High School and Yavapai College grad, and catcher/utility Kelsey Rodriguez, from University of Pacific - are transfers.

Six are freshmen, including well-regarded pitcher Nancy Bowling, first baseman Darcy Taylor and infielder Lauren Young.

Candrea couldn't identify newcomer starters yet.

"They've all done a pretty good job at this point," he said. "It's hard to say.

"I'll know more at the end of October."

• The UA has depth. The Wildcats have four pitchers on their roster - returners Shelby Babcock and Kenzie Fowler, plus Bowling and Pinon.

"It's something we haven't had in a long time," he said. "It's nice to be able to give teams a different look.

"When you have depth - and quality depth - you can keep teams off balance."

Bowling, ranked America's No. 7 recruit by ESPN.com, said she is "super-excited" to start fall games Oct. 7 at home against Yavapai and Eastern Arizona.

"Especially to be able to play with this group of girls," she said. "They're just great."

• The staff is retooled. Former UA star Alicia Hollowell was made the UA's permanent pitching coach in the offseason.

Former Wildcat Stacy Iveson, the pitching coach last year, slid over to take the place of Larry Ray, who was not retained after finishing the season suspended.

Candrea filled Hollowell's old job by naming former UA standout center fielder Caitlin Lowe the director of operations.

"I'm very pleased with the staff - I think it's gonna be fun," Candrea said. "They know what the program's all about, and what to expect.

"It's great for our kids to be around players that have been here and have won here."

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