Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Competition is fierce as Arizona softball team opens fall schedule

Mike Candrea says he will have more live competition in the fall as he sorts out his roster. Photo by Mark Evans, TucsonCitizen.com

The Arizona Wildcats softball team begins its fall schedule Sunday afternoon amid fierce competition for roster spots.

Coach Mike Candrea told the team after last season — in which the Wildcats failed to advance to the Women’s College World Series for the first time under Candrea since the 1987 season — that he would carry a smaller roster this season.

He had 20 players last season, generally preferring a smaller core of players, which makes it easier to define roles, manage practice reps and find a collective team personality.

He won’t put a final number on it, but he will make cuts after fall practice ends. Arizona has 24 players — including three walk-ons — for its game Sunday against Pima Community College at Hillenbrand Stadium at 2 p.m.

“By the end of October, it’s going to come down to getting together with the staff and seeing who we feel can really be an integral part of this — whether it’s being a starter or a role player,” Candrea said.

“If you have a role that can help us, then obviously you’re valuable.”

Candrea said he was pleased with the sense of urgency in early practices and was encouraged by the fact only one player transferred after last season, knowing that roster spots weren’t guaranteed.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.

“That was their option to either step up and make it happen, or find another path. They have all chosen their path. Now, it’s a matter of taking advantage of the opportunity.”

With freshman shortstop Shelby Pendley out with an ACL injury, suffered this summer while playing with the U.S. Junior Women’s National Team, Candrea is shuffling the infield and trying third baseman Brigette Del Ponte at shortstop.

Pendley, a power-hitting lefty, was the projected starter.

Here’s a rough look at the competition:

Kenzie Fowler, junior
Shelby Babcock, sophomore
Kiley Shae Aldridge, freshman

Chelsea Goodacre, freshman
Lini Koria, senior
Shannon Tinsley, junior

First base
Baillie Kirker, junior
Lini Koria, senior
Alicia Banks, senior
Kenzie Fowler, junior
Jessica Spigner, a senior transfer from Tennessee

Second base
Kristen Arriola, senior
Chelsea Suitos, redshirt freshman
Alex Lavine, sophomore

Brigette Del Ponte, junior
Ashlee Brawley, sophomore
Alex Lavine, sophomore
Shelby Pendley, freshman (injured)

Third base
Jessica Spigner, senior
Sam Davis, freshman
Brigette Del Ponte, junior

Karissa Buchanan, senior
Hallie Wilson, freshman
Becca Tikey, junior
Nicole Bryan, senior
Alex Lavine, sophomore
Jordy Clifton, sophomore

Arizona’s three new walk-ons are:

–Slap-hitting outfielder Brittany Keiser, from Yavapai Community College, which won the national title last season under coach Stacy Iveson (now back at Arizona as an assistant coach).

–Outfielder Morghan Doughty, a graduate from Cienega High School who played at Colorado State last season as a freshman. She will not be eligible this season, Candrea said, because Colorado State did not release her from her scholarship.

–Infielder Taylor Newman, who played at Desert Vista High in Phoenix.

Here is Arizona’s full fall schedule, from ArizonaWildcats.com.

Search site | Terms of service