By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Susie Parra hurled an orange toward home plate a few times.
Stacy Hill carried a pizza around the outfield and distributed slices to the excess number of players.
Who were these wacky pranksters? Why, none other than assistant coaches on the Arizona softball team.
Even though such behavior would be completely bizarre any other time at Hillenbrand Stadium, it was completely acceptable during the Wildcat Alumni Game, an exhibition game last Saturday afternoon that pitted the Arizona softball team against a team of former UA players.
Parra, a student assistant, and Hill played for the alumni in what started out as a partially serious scrimmage but turned into a softball parody.
"It was fun just to come out and have fun and not be serious," said Parra, who now spends her time on the diamond pitching batting practice and learning about coaching while continuing to get ready for the 1996 Olympics, among other things. "It was good to see some of the alumni I've never met before and play on the same team."
Not that it mattered, but the Wildcats triumphed 10-4 even though the alums' antics during the late innings would have made the Harlem Globetrotters proud.
In both the sixth and seventh innings, the alumni used 13 outfielders. With just about every spot covered, it seemed like the 10 extra players would easily prevent Arizona from getting hits.
The Wildcats shrugged off the ignorance of rules and somehow scored six runs on six hits, mostly liners into the few outfield gaps.
Parra, among others, was impressed with how the UA bats were still able to thrive despite the alumni's unorthodox defensive alignment.
"The offense is there. The defense is there. The coaching is there. It's all going to come together," said Parra, who received the Honda Award last year as the country's best player.
Parra threw lightly to the alumni squad but the Wildcats had to deal with their three pitchers giving their full effort. That move was designed to give the alums a big advantage.
Nancy Evans shut down her teammates while pitching the first three innings. A mere walk separated Evans from a perfect outing. Carrie Dolan pitched the next three and Leah O'Brien closed in the seventh.
But the antics overshadowed the game and while the Wildcats played to their best abilities, smiles usually adorned their faces whenever they watched their older counterparts take a break from the seriousness.
That began before the first pitch as the alums held fielding practice with one thing missing Ä the ball. Miming as though they were making diving or leaping catches and gunning the ball to home plate, the alums surely left some fans thinking about getting their eyes checked.
And then there was Hill standing out in the left field bleachers with her glove when Jenny Dalton and Laura Espinoza came to the plate in the sixth inning. While complementing the onslaught of outfielders, Hill seemed to indicate she would catch any ball hit out there and thus, as she believed, negate a home run.
"Today was just come out and have fun," Coach Mike Candrea said.
Now that the goofiness is over, the Wildcats will spend the rest of the week getting ready for a season that starts next Saturday against New Mexico State at home and, if the recent trend continues, finishes some time in Oklahoma City during May.
Said Candrea: "We've got a big week ahead of us."
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