A week after going into the shop for repairs, the Arizona Wildcats softball team had a nice little midweek tuneup Wednesday night against New Mexico State as the team prepared for a three-game set with Utah this weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Wildcats bashed nine home runs in the doubleheader, scoring 13 runs each game, in their first midweek matchup in a month and just the second in two months.
Kenzie Fowler called the 13-3
(five innings) and 13-7 wins “crucial” preparation for the weekend, and Chelsea Goodacre added that “it gives us that little jump-start we needed for the week.”
“Coming off a bye week, we needed to get amped up,” Good-acre said.
And amp up, Goodacre did.
Goodacre had two home runs on the day, her 17th and 18th of the season, as power-hitting Arizona flashed its guns once more.
The Wildcats, who have scored 62 more runs than they did all of last season with three weekends to go in the regular season, needed the game action.
“This week fit in very well for us because of the off weekend,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “It gave us a chance to get back in the competitive mode a little bit. It would’ve been a great doubleheader except the sixth of the last game, when it kind of fell apart a little bit. One hit way from run ruling them twice.”
As has been the case so often this year, it was the Wildcats’ wildness that caused a little trouble, and even more particularly, Candrea said, it was the early errant pitching that was the key.
Opening her second inning after relieving starter Nancy Bowling — who was accurate but ineffective, walking one but allowing five runs through four innings — Arizona’s Michelle Floyd got herself into trouble.
Floyd walked the first batter of the sixth, and the Aggies ultimately scored two runs in the inning.
The leadoff batter has plagued the Wildcats, Candrea said, and it’s something that the team tried to address during the off-week.
“We got in a lot of live at-bats, and hopefully that’s been productive,” Candrea said. “Time will tell. One of the glaring things I see is what’s happening with the leadoff hitter. That’s got to be our key. When we get the leadoff hitter, we tend to do quite well.”
Coming off weeks of competition, the bye week came at just the right time.
“It was nice to have last week as a solid practice week,” Fowler said. “Everybody could break down fundamentals we need to tweak. It was good timing, with the wildness. You don’t want it to happen, and if we knew what it was, it would be easier to fix.”
Facing the second-worst pitching staff in the conference, the Wildcats should be able to get away with a bit this weekend against the Utes. Utah has a 4.88 earned-run average and has issued just 87 walks this year, so Arizona should have ample time to wield the big bats.
“We’ve been pretty consistent at the plate, and that’s the trait of a good team,” Candrea said. “We have some good hitters who make good adjustments, see the ball well. With the wind blowing out, you feel good going into the ballpark with this team.”