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Playing with pain

By Chris Martin
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 1, 2000
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Even though the pain in her left wrist has subsided, UA junior third baseman Toni Mascarenas still lives with the pain of last year's frustrating season.

After a freshman campaign in which Mascarenas was named Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year and a first team All-American, Mascarenas suffered through her sophomore year trying to recover from a grueling wrist injury.

"Last year I got down on myself a lot, and it carried over to the team," Mascarenas said. "When I get down on myself, I am not as vocal as I can be and you can tell from my attitude that I am not in the game as much as I should be."

Mascarenas' frustration was in direct correlation to the wrist injury that hindered her offensive production and leadership abilities. Loose ligaments in Mascarenas' left wrist required her to have surgery after the 1998 season. Doctors had to tighten her ligaments and then place the wrist in a cast.

"I would never wish that upon anybody," Mascarenas said of her injury. Even with the injury, Mascarenas still played well enough to earn second-team All-Pac-10 honors and rank third on the team with a .325 batting average against Pac-10 foes.

With the wrist healed though, Mascarenas' teammates are expecting bigger things from her this season.

"Toni is going to be past freshman form, she is going to show everybody what she is about," junior outfielder Lauren Bauer said. "She definitely has a lot to prove, and she knows that."

Mascarenas knows that along with regaining her plate presence, she needs to become a more consistent team leader for the Wildcats to excel this year. "Now she is back and will be in full effect, and that's crucial for us," junior outfielder Nicole Giordano said. Head coach Mike Candrea stressed that Mascarenas needs to find some "mental stability" though to ensure her success on the field.

"I think at third base you won't find anyone better," Candrea said. "Toni played most of last year with a hurt wrist, and so I am seeing more bat speed in practice which I am very excited about. She is a good hitter."

With a healthy Mascarenas in the line-up, the Wildcats will suit up for the first time this season in a pair of exhibition games today against Central Arizona Community College.

The games will be played at Hillenbrand Stadium, with the first game beginning at 2 p.m..

Chris Martin can be reached at Chris.Martin@wildcat.arizona.edu

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