When the Arizona Wildcats softball team was eliminated from an NCAA Super Regional, coach Mike Candrea promised change.
In less than a month, he has added a power-hitting transfer and lost a backup infielder.
The transfer is Jessica Spigner, a corner infielder from Tennessee who projects into the middle of Arizona’s lineup for the 2012 season. Spigner will have one season of eligibility at UA after hitting 38 home runs with the Vols.
“I know Arizona was a place she was interested in; she had come to some of our camps,” Candrea said Thursday afternoon.
“It just so happened that things did not work out (at Tennessee) and she was looking for a place. She has done a pretty good job of swinging the bat for Tennessee, so she brings great experience at this level.
“We could have a kid who could hit 15, 20 home runs and drive in a lot of runs.”
Spigner, who is from Santa Clarita, Calif., had a career batting average of .332 at Tennessee, starting 175 of the 176 games in which she played. She had a two-run double against Arizona’s Kenzie Fowler in the teams’ opening game of the 2010 College World Series.
Her transfer was first reported by the Knoxville News, which wrote that late last season “Spigner started sharing time at third base with sophomore All-American Raven Chavanne.”
Meanwhile, Candrea said sophomore infielder Matte Haack, who hit .130 in 23 at-bats last season, has decided to not return.
Candrea met with each player after the season, reviewing peer evaluations — that assessed work ethic, and communication and things of that nature — that he had the players fill out late in season.
“We went through the player evaluations and where the standard should be at Arizona, and showed them the graph of where they fell.”
Candrea, who typically has carried a smaller roster than many coaches, also reiterated that he was not going to have 20 players on the team next season, as he did this year.
He lost four seniors, plus Haack. He has added six newcomers — four scholarship players, a recruited walk-on pitcher and Spigner.
Something else will have to give.
Candrea said he told some of his players that “if they would like to look at other options, they could do that, but if they came back, they needed to know we were probably going to make a little cut at the end of fall. Hopefully, they will put focus on the fall workouts …
“I will carry as many kids as I feel can have a different role on the team and help us win a national championship. I don’t like to put a number on it, but I would prefer to have a team of 15, 16, 17 kids, rather than 20.
“The reason for that is you have to give those kids repetition, and that sometimes takes away from the kids who need the repetitions.”