UA SOFTBALL

Arizona softball: Drop in order riles up Arizona shortstop Del Ponte

2013-04-06T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:32:20Z Arizona softball: Drop in order riles up Arizona shortstop Del PontePatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Until Wednesday afternoon, Brigette Del Ponte had hit sixth in the lineup once - in a single at-bat as a freshman - and never lower than that.

When the Arizona Wildcats senior saw her name in the No. 6 spot Wednesday against Cal, she wasn't happy.

"I was really, really mad," Del Ponte said. "The only person I can be mad at is myself, because I put myself there.

"I hadn't been hitting very well. Coach has gotta do what he's gotta do."

Entering Wednesday's game, Del Ponte was hitting .227 with four home runs and 20 RBIs.

"It's a lot of pressure, and it's gotten to me lately, but I'm trying not to let it," she said.

From the No. 6 spot Wednesday, she singled home two runs in the first inning, finished 2 for 3 and even stole home on a double steal in the UA victory.

Coach Mike Candrea, whose team hosts UC-Santa Barbara in a two-game series starting tonight at 6, smiled when told Del Ponte disliked the lineup shift.

"Just kinda keeping some pressure off her, and letting her find herself a little bit," he said. "And she will."

Candrea thinks Del Ponte - who moved from third base to shortstop this year - is starting to heat up.

"Brigette has been a steady force for us for many years," he said. "Right now I think it's a combination of playing a different position where she's gonna do a little more thinking, because it doesn't come second nature to her. Which has taken a little bit from her offense.

"She's kinda a marked person in this conference, so it's not like she's going to get fat pitches."

The Peoria native has never hit below .322 - or fewer than 15 homers - in a college season.

As the team's only active senior - Kenzie Fowler is redshirting - Del Ponte is the focal point of the UA offense.

Candrea blamed general bad luck - "hitting is a grind," he said - rather than any mechanical flaw. The only one he saw in Del Ponte's swing was a slight propensity to collapse her legs when she swung, which might have been changing her eye level.

"She's always been that fight-or-flight-type hitter," he said. "She's going to rip it and grip it, and let it go.

"Sometimes she loses consciousness of what her body is doing. And that's where she gets in trouble."

He praised her positivity during the stretch.

"If you lose the mindset, you start tumbling down," he said.

Del Ponte knows the Wildcats need her to get hot, and fast. Perhaps as early as the next Pac-12 series, which starts Friday at Oregon.

"It would be very crucial, and it would impact a lot, if I was hitting like I usually do," she said.

Del Ponte Struggling

Brigette Del Ponte's slow start to this season stands in stark contrast to the rest of her UA career. Here's a look at her previous three seasons compared to this one:

Year HR RBI Avg. SLG.

2010 21 80 .322 .710

2011 17 59 .335 .735

2012 15 56 .328 .678

2013 4 22 .241 .417

UP next

• Who: UC-Santa Barbara at Arizona

• Where: Hillenbrand Stadium

• When: 6 p.m. tonight; noon Sunday

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