Wildcats hope to resurrect season in weekend series
This weekend's series at Sancet Field could prove to be a religious experience for Arizona's baseball players, as the team goes for its first Pacific 10 Conference sweep of the season.
The UA baseball team will spend their Easter weekend hoping to resurrect themselves from the doldrums of an average season.
Junior shortstop Keoni DeRenne said he is not content with the way the team is playing.
"We need to pick it up," he said. "We need to go out and play hard every game."
The Wildcats (21-23 overall, 6-9 Pac-10) will need to sweep Washington State (14-25, 2-10) to maintain legitimacy in the Pac-10 title race.
"We need to sweep this weekend," UA sophomore pitcher Ben Diggins said. "There is no doubt about it, it seems like we have backed ourselves into a new corner, it has been a real hard year, but we could go on a run and have a chance to go to regionals."
Due to Sunday's Easter holiday, UA will be forced to start the weekend series a day early. The Wildcats will play the first game of the series tonight at 7.
In the game, the right-handed Diggins (8-2, 3.30 ERA) will go up against WSU's Todd Meidahl (1-5, 5.86 ERA).
The game will mark a turning point for Diggins, who won his first eight decisions of the season before losing two straight outings to Washington and Oregon State.
"I have pitched bad the past two games," Diggins said. "They have not been bad luck losses, the last game I was doing fine until the seventh inning when I gave up the grand slam. That kind of killed us."
After games on Friday and Saturday, the Wildcats will have a rare off-day on Sunday due to Easter.
"It's a long season," DeRenne said. "We've played 43 games so far, so I guess Sunday will be a good holiday for us."
Considering the way the team has been playing lately, they may need a holiday.
The Wildcats lost two of three games to lowly Oregon State last weekend in Corvailis, Ore.
Fighting rainy weather and Beaver bats all weekend, Arizona escaped with Sunday's game, a 10-4 victory.
DeRenne feels slighted, though, by last weekend's results.
"They were lucky to take two games (from us)," he said.
If history is any indication, however, Arizona should reverse its fortunes this weekend against Washington State. The Wildcats are 9-2 all-time versus WSU, and swept the Cougars in three games last season.
"I remember them from last season," he said. "Most of their best players are returning this year."
Despite the fact that the Cougars have lost eight straight conference games, UA won't be taking them lightly.
"I know they start two left-handed (pitchers)," UA head coach Jerry Stitt said. "They're a pretty tough team."
"They're not pushovers," he said. "They can hang with anybody. They were in all three games last weekend versus Arizona State."
Ryan Finley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.