UA SOFTBALL

Arizona softball: Babcock: 'I'm going to pitch'

Junior leaves hospital, shows up at practice, surprises her coach
2013-05-15T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:32:28Z Arizona softball: Babcock: 'I'm going to pitch'Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Around 9:30 Tuesday morning, Shelby Babcock reported to Arizona Wildcats practice, looking as she always had, in a gray T-shirt and red shorts, and declaring herself ready to pitch.

Twenty-four hours earlier, she sat in the hospital with what she described obliquely as the "flu - and some other stuff," wondering whether she'd be able to pitch Friday against Baylor in the NCAA softball tournament's College Station, Texas, regional.

"I was a little freaked out," the junior said.

She left the hospital midday Monday, regained her appetite and slept through the night, which she called a "a big, big booster in my confidence that I'll be back." She felt "a lot better" Tuesday, and practiced, albeit with caution.

"I'm going to pitch Friday," she said.

UA coach Mike Candrea was "very surprised" to see her at practice.

"Knowing her, she wants to be on the mound pretty badly," he said.

Catcher Chelsea Goodacre was similarly thrilled.

"Seeing her back out here at practice is really reassuring," she said, "knowing that we're going to have her this weekend."

Whether Babcock will be at full strength Friday is another question - especially after being sick for five days.

Even if Babcock pitches, the UA figures to rely on freshman Nancy Bowling and junior college transfer Estela Piñon, too, given the muggy weather and the chance the Wildcats could play five times in three days.

"Nancy and Estela have been doing awesome," Babcock said.

Bowling grew up watching the Women's College World Series on television with her father, and expects her tournament debut to be "intense" and "nerve-racking."

The Wildcats have helped Bowling - who has a nervous stomach and a penchant for over-thinking - deal with those emotions better as the season unfolded. Goodacre often tries to loosen her up.

"She keeps reminding me, 'You gotta have fun with it,'" Bowling said. "That's what it is: We grew up playing this game, and we love it. Just remember why you play it.

"It's not super-intense. And it's not life or death."

Goodacre said Bowling "has a hard time remembering her successes" when she's on the mound.

"She focuses too much on her failures," the sophomore catcher said. "I've been through that on the hitting side, so I know what it's like to be there.

"So I make her focus on, 'Look at how many girls you struck out. Remember your good games.' And really taking her out of the moment.

"Making her have fun. Because we're out here to have fun.

"And when she's serious, that's when she doesn't do as well."

Piñon, too, admitted to being "very stoked" about her tournament debut, which will likely come out of the bullpen.

"Being a closer, a reliever, I go in there saying, 'You know what, I have nothing to lose,'" Piñon said. "'Just go out there and play your game.' And it's been working.

"I'll keep that up."

On StarNet: Get the latest news about all Wildcats sports at azstarnet.com/wildcats

Up next

• Who: Arizona (32-24) vs. Baylor (39-15), NCAA tournament

• When: 12:30 p.m. Friday

• Where: College Station, Texas

• TV: ESPN2

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at pfinley@azstarnet.com or 573-4658. On Twitter @PatrickFinley

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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