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With Fowler doubtful for ASU series, the rest of the Wildcats try to pitch in

Arizona freshman Shelby Babcock throws in the bullpen Tuesday.

Who was auditioning Tuesday to be the Arizona softball team’s No. 2 pitcher this week? Who wasn’t?

Sophomore third baseman Brigette Del Ponte took a look at the activity in both bullpens before practice and commented, “It looks like open tryouts.”

Arizona is scrambling for another arm or two because sophomore ace Kenzie Fowler is “day-to-day” after she suffered a concussion when hit in the forehead by a foul ball on Sunday.

Coach Mike Candrea said before practice that Fowler’s concussion symptoms had not cleared.

Once they do, then 48 hours have to pass before she can take the concussion test that could allow her to resume competition.

All of that makes it doubtful she will pitch in the three-game series against second-ranked Arizona State, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium.

“The clock is really not in our favor right now,” Candrea said.

So, the seventh-ranked Wildcats have one scholarship pitcher — freshman Shelby Babcock — and a bunch of position players who might have pitched a little in high school, or travel ball, or not at all for several years.

Senior outfielder Brittany Lastrapes declared herself “the No. 1 lefty.”

Sophomore first baseman Baillie Kirker said with a smile, “I haven’t thrown in a long time, so it’s all trying to come back, but I think I have a pretty good drop ball and a change-up.”

Del Ponte said, “If you want me to throw a fatty down the middle, I can throw a fatty down the middle.”

Well, Arizona isn’t hoping for any of that, and maybe Babcock, who is 14-2 with a 3.43 ERA, can make it through the week.

Or maybe the Wildcats can win some wild 10-9 games.

Candrea didn’t know Tuesday who would be next in line after Babcock.

The players were having a bit of fun with it all Tuesday, and so did Candrea when talking about his would-be pitchers.

“They all think they’re great athletes, and most athletes think they can do anything,” Candrea said. “You know, everyone wants to pitch until it’s time for the game and you have to get in the circle and actually do it. Everyone wants to pitch in practice.”

On a more serious note, Babcock will be facing an Arizona State team that leads the Pac-10 in hitting with a .359 average. The Sun Devils rank second in the league in home runs with 59, trailing Arizona’s 65.

“I have a lot of confidence in Shelby,” Candrea said.

“The one thing about her is she’s big, she’s strong and she can throw a lot of innings. A lot of times, what we have found is that the more she throws the better she gets. We’ve tried to tire her out before she throws that first inning to get rid of the jitters, so maybe this will be the answer. …

“My big thing is that we just go out and compete and not worry about things we don’t have any control over.”

–Fowler was not at practice Tuesday. Roommate Nicole Bryan, a junior outfielder, said Fowler has been spending time at her parents’ house in Tucson. “I’ve been texting and calling with her, and she sounds like she is doing really well at least.” …

–Bryan hit the foul ball that ended up hitting Fowler, who was sitting in the dugout. Bryan said she texted Fowler after the game to apologize. “I know it’s not my fault, but it’s the combination of me being her really good friend and roommate, it was hard on me.” Fowler’s reply: “She said that I don’t have anything to worry about and that it was a freak accident,” Bryan said.

–Tickets for the Arizona-ASU series are sold out, although some standing-room only tickets will be available for each game beginning an hour before first pitch. The Thursday and Friday night games begin at 7 p.m. Saturday’s game starts at 1 p.m.

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