The Arizona softball team might have its outfield set for the next three years.
Brittany Lastrapes returns in left field and fellow sophomore Lauren Schutzler returns in center. They were two of the team’s best hitters last season.
Speedy freshman Karissa Buchanan, a Sabino High School grad who hit .505 with 46 stolen bases last season, is the new player in right field as fall practice began Wednesday.
“I’ve followed her since she was in the seventh grade and I’m really anxious to see her compete at this level,” said assistant coach Larry Ray.
“If she does what I think she is capable of, she will be our leadoff hitter this year.”
Lastrapes, who hit a team-high .364 last season, was the team’s primary leadoff hitter, but she isn’t the typical speedster/slap-hitter UA has on top of the lineup. Lastrapes’ swing-away skills makes her “ideal” in the second spot in the order, Ray said.
Buchanan is one of three scholarship freshmen on the roster. The others are catcher Lini Koria, who holds the California state high school record for home runs, and second baseman Kristen Arriola.
Alicia Banks, a first baseman from Sierra Vista Buena High School, is an invited walk-on.
The Wildcats added two players from walk-on tryouts last week, including outfielder Caitlin Bayley from Phoenix Xavier Prep. She was selected an EA Sports first-team All-American in the summer, when it was erroneously reported she had signed with UA.
“I’m getting calls about her and it’s on the Internet, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know who that young lady is,’ ” Ray said.
Bayley, who had intended to enroll at UA, eventually called Ray, went through the tryout . . . and here she is.
“She swings it a little bit,” Ray said. “I want to see her a little more and see how she compares to what we want.”
The other walk-on is Amanda Monge, a senior catcher who hit .346 last year at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.
UA is still searching for a pitching coach, preferably one who also could throw batting practice. The coaches have talked to former Catalina Foothills High School and Pima Community College pitcher Ashley Ralston-Alvarez about helping out as a batting practice pitcher, Ray said.
Junior pitcher Sarah Akamine was not at practice Wednesday, telling the school’s sports information staff she believed she had food poisoning.
• Yavapai at UA, 4 p.m., Saturday;
• Eastern Arizona at UA, 6 p.m., Saturday