By Scottie Bricker
UA freshmen pitchers need hitter's intensity
Senior Nancy Evans is one member of the pitching staff who also plays in the field when she is not in the circle, doubling as a part-time shortstop.
And since freshmen pitchers Teresa Ayoub, Meghann Pricer and Becky Lemke have struggled of late after beginning the season on a tear, Hill and head coach Mike Candrea tossed third baseman Toni Mascarenas, another freshman, into the pitching rotation.
"It's a different strategy when you get a chance to hit as well as pitch," pitching coach Stacy Hill said. "When you are a hitter you have a different awareness about the game and different strategies. You have a tendency to fight more when you get to the plate and that can carry over to your pitching."
After performing well at the beginning of the season against lesser competition, Lemke, who has received a majority of the time in the circle outside of Evans, has seen her ERA soar to nearly 2.00. She held it under .50 for nearly half the season.
"Our young pitchers are still learning how to balance out the mental part of the game with the physical," Hill said. "I met with them on Thursday before we left for Oregon and we talked with (CATS Mental Trainer) Jeff Janssen about their mental toughness."
Hill said putting Mascarenas into the rotation supplies the staff with some much-needed intensity because she is a fighter and has a great deal of tenacity.
Hill and Evans both hope the young hurlers will use the experience of those around them to build themselves and become better players.
"I want them to ask me questions and ask for my advice," Evans said. "I want to help in any way I can."
New girl on the block
"Who's the new girl," the team chanted as Felecity Willis, a guard on the UA women's basketball team, walked onto the field at Hillenbrand Stadium last week.
Willis, fresh off a hoops season in which she averaged seven points and led the team with 119 assists, has used the first couple of weeks to adjust to life on the diamond.
"This is definitely a learning experience for me right now," Willis said. "Everybody has been telling me what to do and trying to help me get ready. It is a real good atmosphere out here."
Willis said she will be used primarily at second base when she sees playing time, but not until she gets used to her softball legs.
"I still don't fit in yet," Willis said. "Each day I learn a little more and eventually I hope it will pay off."