ARIZONA SOFTBALL

Injury to Akamine puts Cats in deeper trouble for NCAAs

2010-05-16T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:12:26Z Injury to Akamine puts Cats in deeper trouble for NCAAsPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 16, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Wearing leis made of both flowers and individually wrapped candies, the Arizona Wildcats participated in Senior Day activities after Saturday's 6-4 loss to UCLA dressed for a vacation.

Saturday, like the day before it, was anything but.

The Wildcats' nightmare 24 hours continued Saturday, when starting pitcher Sarah Akamine left after four innings with a left knee injury. She will receive an MRI on Monday to determine whether she simply hyperextended it or tore her meniscus.

Friday night, star pitcher Kenzie Fowler was shut down for four days when her right hand swelled, the result of a shoulder nerve being pinched by inflammation.

"It's devastating," UA coach Mike Candrea said.

Consider the timing: NCAA tournament seeds will be announced tonight at 7.

Were the playoffs to start today, the Wildcats likely would start senior Ashley Ralston-Alvarez, who had thrown 6 2/3 career innings at the UA before allowing three runs on three innings Saturday.

"I'm ready," Ralston-Alvarez said. "If they need me, they need me. I haven't been on this team for nothin'."

The UA (43-11, 13-8) has no other pitcher, though first baseman Baillie Kirker warmed briefly in the bullpen.

"You can't play this game unless you have a loaded gun," Candrea said. "That's an obvious thing.

"We're hoping that we have them both back, because it's a tough hill to climb when you have your best. It becomes even tougher when you don't."

Akamine felt her knee lock up in the third inning; the UA called a timeout and wrapped it, hoping the compression would provide some relief. She pitched the fourth inning, allowing three runs.

Asked if she could pitch today, theoretically, she said no.

"We'll find a way," Akamine said. "We're good enough … anyone on the mound is fine."

Candrea said the injury might not prevent Akamine from pitching; he said she has "a pretty high pain tolerance."

Fowler, meanwhile, spent Saturday afternoon in the dugout. She will begin strengthening her arm and improving her posture while taking anti-inflammatory medication, but will not throw until Wednesday.

The Wildcats led 2-0 before Akamine gave up three in the fourth. She should have been out of the inning unscathed, but with two outs struck out Samantha Camuso on a wild pitch, allowing her to take first.

The Bruins scored three when GiOnna DiSalvatore singled to center field with the bases loaded and the ball scooted under Lauren Schutzler's glove.

The Bruins (40-11, 14-7) added three more in the sixth, and the Wildcats countered with Brittany Lastrapes' two-run homer in the bottom half.

The UA will learn today whether it gets to play the regional round this week at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats have been forced to travel the past two years, the NCAA claiming that it tries to make as many four-team pods where teams can travel by bus.

A bus trip is considered 400 miles or less.

The only top 25 team within that range is Arizona State, whom the Wildcats won't play because they share a conference and high ranking. San Diego State, which receives votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, is 410 miles away.

From 1987-2007, Candrea's teams were sent out of state for the regional round only twice.

In 2008, however, the team was shipped to Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., for the regional. Last year, the UA traveled to Louisville.

Shortstop K'Lee Arredondo said the UA deserves to stay home.

"We're the No. 3 team in the country," she said. "It's not like we lost huge this weekend. We played our butts off."

TODAY

• What: NCAA softball tournament selection show

• When: 7 p.m.

• TV: ESPNU

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