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UA hurling uneven as ASU series looms



No-hit one day, bombs away the next.

The Arizona softball team is hot and cold, which doesn’t please coach Mike Candrea.

“I don’t know what to expect. It’s frustrating,” he said. “I’m not used to making so many damn changes so early in a game. You have to manage (by) the seat of your pants.”

Gone are the days of pitchers such as Nancy Evans, Jennie Finch, Alicia Hollowell and Taryne Mowatt. Back then you could expect double-digit strikeouts – and probably no runs allowed – and an opponent’s scratch run or two.

Don’t count on that this weekend as the nation’s two top offensive teams get together.

No. 5 Arizona State (34-7, 4-2 Pac-10) visits Hillenbrand Stadium at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday to face the No. 10 Wildcats (32-9, 4-2).

UA leads the country in hitting at .350; defending national champ ASU is second at .343.

Candrea hopes since UA is facing its archrival the Cats will be performing in all-cylinder mode – pitching, hitting and defense.

“I’ve done everything in the world to get the point across to them,” he said. “Offense is fickle; you can’t rely on that every game.”

ASU has a slight edge with freshman Hillary Bach (19-2, 2.31 ERA) as its pitching ace. But like Arizona, the ASU defense has struggled.

Candrea has gone with starters Sarah Akamine (14-4, 2.38) and Lindsey Sisk (11-2, 3.41) with Jen Martinez (7-3, 2.77) the situational stopper.

The three have combined for just 195 strikeouts in 255 1/3 innings, which, as Candrea points out, means the ball is being put into play a lot more than UA is used to.

“We get three, four strikeouts a game,” Candrea said. “The ball is going into play a lot more – and hard. A lot more defense has to be played.”

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