A 'weekend from hell'
The UA softball team remains second-best after being defeated on the road by No. 1 UCLA and splitting with No. 4 Washington over the weekend.
"Once in '95 they swept us," said UA volunteer assistant coach and former Wildcat pitcher Nancy Evans of the UCLA series. "Every other year for the (four) I've been here we swept or split with them."
No. 2 Arizona (34-8 overall, 6-4 Pacific 10 Conference) fell to the Bruins (38-1, 7-1) 6-2 and 3-2 Saturday at Easton Softball Stadium in California.
"We made a lot of mistakes," sophomore shortstop Felecity Willis said. "In the first game, we played well, but couldn't get the win. And then again in the second game we had mistakes. We just weren't earning it on defense.
"It was the weekend from hell, now we just got to let it roll off and re-focus."
Bruin sophomore Stacey Nuveman proved to be a powerful offensive target against the Wildcats in the doubleheader series. In the first game, her two-out, two-RBI single sealed the 6-2 UCLA victory. And in the second game, she broke the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run.
"The biggest part of it was that defensively we failed to be aggressive," sophomore Becky Lemke said. "We made errors in routine plays."
The Wildcats seemed to have left the errors behind them in California, as they traveled Sunday to Washington, defeating the Huskies (27-9, 5-4) 2-1.
"I think we were more mentally prepared for this game," Lemke said. "As a pitcher, I knew they didn't have as many big sticks.
"The first game we came out aggressive, and then the second game..."
The second game ended in the sixth due to the mercy-rule as Washington defeated the Wildcats 9-0.
"We were trying to make plays instead of letting them happen," Willis said.
Many Wildcat pitchers found the mound over the weekend, as Lemke and freshman Jennie Finch took the UCLA losses, and both saw playing time against Washington, along with sophomore relievers Lindsey Collins and Meghann Pricer. Despite the loss, Finch only surrendered four hits in her six innings of work.
The Wildcats have left the weekend behind them as they begin to focus this week on home games beginning tomorrow with California and Stanford Saturday.
Tuesday's practice, after taking Monday off, saw the Wildcats out at the field later and for less time than usual, with players going in for one-on-one talks with head coach Mike Candrea in his office.
"We're just trying to get the confidence back," assistant coach Stacy Hill said. "We need to relax and have fun, now it's more of a mental time in the year."
With cast and all
When a starting pitcher receives a blow to the hand and is diagnosed with a fracture, one would think the season is over. But not when sophomore pitcher Becky Lemke is on the mound.
Lemke has appeared on the hill for the last two weeks, cast and all, after a hit to the left wrist in the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., March 18-21 that has left her injured for over a month now.
"Everything's feeling good with the cast on," Lemke said. "Before the cast was on, it hurt bad, but I'm feeling better now."
Lemke stands at 19-4 with a 1.30 ERA for the season, and despite the injury has still been used against power hitting teams, like the Bruins.
"The only hard thing is that I can't defend myself very well," said Lemke with her glove over her cast, laughing as she pointed to her colorful legs. "I have so many bruises because I can't field ground balls, unless they come right where I am set-up.
"I don't care, though, because I am pitching, so it's worth it."