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Friday March 9, 2001

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Candrea wants improvement on little things

By Brett Erickson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

No. 2 softball team to play 9 games over Spring Break; Pac-10

With the start of the Pacific 10 Conference season two weeks away, the No. 2 Arizona softball team will hit the road during Spring Break for eight games in California.

The Wildcats play a doubleheader against San Diego Tuesday, one game against San Diego State Wednesday, and then head up the road to Fullerton, Calif., for the always-competitive Kia Classic beginning Thursday.

At the tournament, the Wildcats will face No. 24 Cal State Northridge, UNLV and Louisianna-Lafayette.

Depending on the results of those games, Arizona could face a number of teams in the finals tomorrow and Sunday.

UA head coach Mike Candrea said the games will give his team a chance to continue working on the little things that can separate contenders from pretenders.

"I think the big thing right now is we need to do all the things it takes to win the close ballgames," he said.

At the top of Candrea's "to work on" list are three items: The Wildcats must continue to get consistent pitching, steady defense and timely hits with runners on base.

The games are important for Arizona because it will be the final games the team plays before venturing into the Pac-10 portion of its schedule.

In the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches top-25 poll, all eight Pac-10 teams - Southern California and Washington State do not have softball programs - are in the top-24 in the country.

Included in this elite group are No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 4 California, No. 5 Stanford and No. 9 Arizona State.

The Wildcats open their conference slate March 30 at No. 24 Oregon.