By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat April 25, 1997
Wildcats travel to Calif. to try and wrap up title
Some of the Arizona softball players admitted on Wednesday night that the team may have had trouble psyching itself up to play Arizona State.
If it struggled to prepare mentally to play the 11th-ranked Sun Devils, imagine what it might take to get psyched up to play 22nd-ranked California and Stanford, which is 5-13 in the Pacific 10 Conference.
Perhaps the chance to close out the conference title?
Arizona head coach Mike Candrea told his team after Wednesday night's sweep of ASU that it had a chance to claim the title early.
The Wildcats currently sit atop the Pac-10 with a 16-1 record and are 44-4 overall.
The closest competition comes from UCLA. The Bruins are 14-6 in the conference, and after this weekend, have just six games remaining on its schedule.
"We've got to be ready to compete hard this weekend," Candrea said. "We're getting more quality at-bats right now. We know we can do it."
In the last six games, the Wildcats have averaged 10 runs per game. Needless to say, Arizona won all six games.
"We set the UCLA series as a standard for us," said Candrea of his team's sweep of the Bruins last Friday. In those two games the Wildcats scored 21 runs on 25 hits.
"We may have needed 26," UA center fielder Alison Johnsen said, laughing.
However, nobody laughs when Johnsen - or the rest of the Wildcats, for that matter - steps to the plate. The national player of the week is hitting .539 and has hit safely in 17-straight games. As a team the Wildcats are hitting .385. By comparison, Cal is hitting .285 and Stanford just .252.
"We should be pumped for every game the same way," catcher Leah Braatz-Cochrane said.
Pac-10 pitcher of the week Nancy Evans brings her league-leading 25-1 record and 0.93 ERA to the series. Carrie Dolan (19-3) will also pitch for Arizona.
Cal pitcher Holly Yost has been the workhorse of the conference this season. She has almost twice the number of appearances as any other pitcher (40) but is just 20-14.
Stanford has a pair of 10-game winners in Becky Blevins (10-13, 2.27) and Marcy Crouch (10-9).