ARIZONA SOFTBALL
SOFTBALL

Season ended early, but it wasn't boring

2012-05-30T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:15:36Z Season ended early, but it wasn't boringPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

For two months and one day, it was wildly eventful.

The last 62 days of the Arizona Wildcats' softball season featured a medical scare, a win against the nation's No. 1 team, two suspensions, a marriage proposal and five playoff games.

With the Wildcats at home from the Women's College World Series for the second time in as many years, here's a look at the moments that shaped the final two months of the team's season:

March 25, Tempe

What happened: Mike Candrea was rushed from the ASU-UA game via ambulance to a hospital with chest pains. The coach was transferred to UAMC and released three days later; doctors told Candrea the pains were likely stress-related. The Wildcats, meanwhile, started the conference season in the worst way - being swept at ASU.

They said it: "Any time you're around our age, you never know - it can come up on you quickly. I was just hoping he was OK. I was worried. I'm just glad I got the news that I did." - UA assistant Larry Ray

March 28, Hillenbrand Stadium

What happened: With Candrea home from the hospital, but not coaching, an emotional UA team trailed San Diego State by five entering the seventh inning. The Wildcats tied the game in the seventh on a two-strike, two-out Alex Lavine three-run homer and won it in the eighth 8-5.

Inspired, the Wildcats recovered from the ASU sweep by winning six of their next seven.

They said it: "Sunday (at ASU) felt horrible. We were at rock bottom for our season, I think. We just knew … there's no way to go but up." - Lavine

April 14, Berkeley, Calif.

What happened: The Wildcats recorded 13 hits - their most in more than a year - to beat Cal 8-3. The UA became the first team in the country to defeat No. 1 Cal at home and snapped the Golden Bears' 15-game win streak.

They said it: "This is an opportunity for us to really make a statement. … If you like to host - and I feel like we like playing here at Hillenbrand - you've gotta go out and earn it." - Candrea, before the trip

May 10, Hillenbrand Stadium

What happened: Assistant Larry Ray did not coach against Oregon State, and has not returned since, after being arrested April 29 on suspicion of criminal damage domestic violence and two counts of disorderly conduct domestic violence.

Also, UA first baseman Baillie Kirker did not play and has not returned since being suspended for violating team rules.

They said it: "The only thing I can say is he's dealing with some personal issues." - Candrea

May 12, Hillenbrand Stadium

What happened: Having struggled mightily in conference play since defeating Cal - the UA had gone 2-5 in Pac-12 play since April 12 - the Wildcats knew they needed to take the Oregon State series to likely ensure they'd host an NCAA tournament regional.

After splitting the first two games, the Wildcats won the third on Brigette Del Ponte's seventh-inning walk-off homer. Then, during Senior Day festivities, outfielder Nicole Bryan accepted a marriage proposal.

They said it: "Ending on a weekend like that is going to get us on a roll." - Catcher Lini Koria

Saturday, Norman, Okla.

What happened: For the second straight day, the Wildcats were blown away by Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts. Saturday, the Oklahoma ace was staked to a 5-0 first-inning lead and eliminated the Wildcats from the NCAA tournament super regional for the second straight season.

The UA lost 7-1, at one point striking out nine straight times.

They said it: "We got beat. There's really not much to say." - Candrea

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