Citizen Staff Writer
The bad news for the Arizona softball team in this weekend’s crucial Pac-10 series is the arrival of one of the best pitchers in the country.
Stanford’s Missy Penna has a 25-3 record for the No. 2-ranked Cardinal to go with a 0.90 ERA.
The bad news for Stanford is it will have to deal with the Wildcats’ potent lineup.
Sam “Bam” Banister, in the fifth batting spot for No. 9 Arizona, puts the Cardinal in a pickle that not even Penna welcomes.
Arizona State got picky and walked cleanup slugger Jenae Leles twice to get to Banister last week and got its clocked cleaned twice: a pair of three-run homers.
UA (33-9, 5-2) and Stanford (36-4, 6-3) are tied for first in the Pac-10. The teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
UA faces No. 14 California (29-12, 5-4) at Hillenbrand at 7 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
Meanwhile, UA coach Mike Candrea’s “work in progress” got high grades last week as UA beat ASU 10-8, then was tied at 2 in the second game when it was called due to rain.
Candrea can live with the bombs-away offense if defensive obligations are met. And he can live with inconsistent pitching as long as the principals show they care and are working at getting better.
“They are learning to understand the mentality they have to have,” Candrea said. “They had to step up last week and they did. Sarah (Akamine) pitched her heart out.
“Sam is growing up as a senior and enjoying the game like she hasn’t ever before.”