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Pac-10 swing continues at home

By Kate Longworth
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 16, 1999
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The UA softball team shifted its focus from losing games last weekend at UCLA and Washington to individual player attention in order to get back into the swing of things for the arrival of California and Stanford this weekend.

"We haven't played Stanford yet, and have had a chance to see Cal," assistant coach Stacy Hill said. "But our focus is mostly on ourselves, not the other teams. We can beat anyone."

The No. 2 Wildcats (34-8 overall, 6-4 Pacific 10 Conference) are coming off two tough defeats at No. 1 UCLA (38-1, 7-1) 6-2, 3-2, and a split with No. 4 Washington (27-9, 5-4) a 2-1 win and a 9-0 loss.

"The games gave us a chance to see our strengths and weaknesses," Hill said. "When we get it all together, we'll have better outcomes."

The Wildcats will first take on the No. 14-ranked Golden Bears (31-12, 2-7) this evening in doubleheaders beginning at 6 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Cal lost three of its four games in playing the Oregon schools last weekend.

"It'll be nice to be back playing at home," UA sophomore pitcher Becky Lemke said. "We won't have to focus on traveling stuff, we can work on team stuff.

Tomorrow at 6 p.m., the Wildcats will enter their second double duel with No. 8 Stanford (32-11, 4-6). The Cardinal comes to the desert after having swept Oregon and having been swept by Oregon State last weekend.

"I expect we'll do really good in the games," UA sophomore shortstop Felecity Willis said. "We'll get our target back, we just have to forget about the past."

In leaving behind the past, the Wildcats will have to try to regain their winning streak that has fallen. UA had a 15-game winning streak before conference play began, but since the opening of Pac-10 play, its longest streak was four games.

"This weekend is a big challenge for us coming off three losses," said volunteer assistant coach and former Wildcat pitcher Nancy Evans. "It's a big character-builder."

The Wildcats have prepared their characters this week from individual conference talks with head coach Mike Candrea to extra practice out on the field.

"He likes to meet with them one-on-one so they don't hold anything back," Evans said of coach's individual meetings. "And that way he can be really open with them, too."

The coaches seem to have overall confidence with each of the players coming into the weekend.

"Each game someone different steps up and leads the way," Hill said. "For every game, we can count on someone really performing well."

The Wildcats are 199-11 at Hillenbrand since 1993 and will look to continue their winning ways.

"Every team in the Pac-10 this year is good," Evans said. "We just can't underestimate anyone."