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Hanah Bowen carves out unique, important role with No. 9 Wildcats
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Hanah Bowen carves out unique, important role with No. 9 Wildcats

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Arizona’s Hanah Bowen is 4-0 on the mound this year and has also thrived in a pinch-hitting role as well as playing some second base for UA, which has won eight straight games.

As Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, puts it, Hanah Bowen “has no down time at all.”

The redshirt junior from Ramona, California, has grown into a do-everything utility player for No. 8 Arizona this season.

She enters this weekend’s Bear Down Fiesta with a 4-0 record and 1.13 ERA as a pitcher, is the team’s top pinch-hitter and even has seven starts at second base for the injured Reyna Carranco.

The last of those might be reduced soon. Candrea said Carranco is “getting closer” and may return this weekend. Regardless, Bowen will likely find a way into the lineup card. She always has.

“(Bowen’s) been a player like that all of her life,” Candrea said. “I just commend her ability, as it does take someone who is in pretty good shape to be able to take the ground balls necessary to be good defensively, spend time in the bullpen and spend time to hit.”

Bowen’s flexibility is most valuable in stretches like the next seven days.

The Wildcats (22-5, 6-2) take a break from Pac-12 play after sweeping Stanford in four games last week.

They’ll host New Mexico State at 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday before hosting an exhibition against the Mexican National Team at 6 p.m. Saturday. Arizona will then host a rare weekday doubleheader, hosting Grand Canyon starting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Wildcats will be heavy favorites against the Aggies (18-16, 3-3 WAC) and Antelopes (15-19, 4-2 WAC).

That might mean fewer innings for ace Alyssa Denham, who threw 12 shutout innings against Stanford, opening up opportunities for Bowen.

“I’ve gotten to witness her improve so much,” Denham said. “All of her hard work that she puts in is paying off. It’s so great to be able to be here and watch it. I thank god I’m on her side because she’s on a roll. Her mentality is a lot different. She’s changed it. She’s so positive, and she does attack every pitch with her very best.”

Bowen acknowledges that change in mentality has been her biggest improvement. Candrea also notes that as a part-time hitter, she brings a unique perspective to the circle.

“For some pitchers, it’s really good for them because they think like a hitter instead of thinking like a pitcher,” Candrea said. “There’s some advantages to that. But she’s just a really good athlete that loves playing the game and will play anywhere she needs to play to help the team win.”

Right now, and especially when Carranco returns, Arizona could use Bowen’s hot hand in the circle.

Arizona is 7-5 when it gives up two or more runs, and fifth-year senior Mariah Lopez has struggled, carrying a 2.37 ERA after allowing eight runs in her previous two appearances.

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