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Cats seek better ‘D,’ pitching as Pac-10 play begins

Citizen Staff Writer



No wonder it’s a spring of discontent for Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea.

The Wildcats are bombs away at the plate as usual, but the plate is just one spot between the white lines.

“Defense is an issue,” said Candrea this week, preparing for UA’s first Pacific-10 Conference game of the year. “The key is keeping the (opponents’) runs away from the plate.”

The No. 11-ranked Wildcats (28-7) open league play at home against Oregon State (13-16) at 7 Friday night. Then comes Oregon (10-17), which visits at 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

OSU brings leading hitter Paige Lowe, the younger sister of former Arizona All-American Caitlin Lowe.

Pitching is also an issue for this reloading Arizona team after a mix-and-match pre-conference schedule and a mildly disturbing 2.54 ERA.

Candrea will likely go with Jennifer Martinez as his ace and the starter vs. OSU. She has been the most consistent (5-1, 1.96, 60 strikeouts) of a trio of throwers. The others are the busiest, Sarah Akamine (13-4, 2.40, 49) and Lindsey Sisk (10-2, 3.22, 55).

The Cats are having no trouble on offense, hitting .360 and averaging nine runs a game to go with 77 team homers. Wildcat slugger Stacie Chambers leads the nation with 20 homers and 68 RBIs.

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