Arizona had just played a 12-inning game, lasting 3 hours and 40 minutes, in the Tucson heat. Wildcats coach Mike Candrea, with his team in the midst of another postseason run, had specific instructions for the next day.
And it had nothing to do with softball.
After dispatching Hofstra on Sunday with a grand slam in the bottom of the 12th to cap a 10-6 come-from-behind victory and win an NCAA regional, Arizona took Monday off.
All the way off.
“Coach told us, ‘I don’t want to see any of you. I don’t want you to do anything. And I don’t you to see each other. Just take a break,’” center fielder Lauren Schutzler said.
“At this point in the season, we have been together for a long time, so sometimes you just need to get away and relax.”
The Wildcats regrouped Tuesday afternoon for practice in advance of this weekend’s Super Regional against BYU. The best-of-three series begins Friday at 4 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium. The second game will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, with a third game to follow, if necessary.
Candrea, who used the time away from the team to recover from an illness he has been battling, said he was just looking to recharge his players’ batteries.
“Really since January, we have had maybe one or two days when we weren’t together doing something. They run into each other even on their days off,” Candrea said.
“I think in this game, rest is sometimes overlooked. At this stage of the game, there is only so much we can do, and rest is as important as anything for us.”
It certainly is important to freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler, who threw 202 pitches against Hofstra on Sunday, running into trouble in the top of the 12th. The Pride scored twice before Sarah Akamine came in and got the final two outs.
Fowler, who has battled a pinch nerve that has caused her pitching hard to swell, doesn’t figure to throw in practice until Thursday. Fowler (33-6, 1.25 ERA) is line to start Friday.
“With her right now, the key to this part of the season for her is to be able to rest and recuperate and then come out and give it everything’s she got for a weekend,” Candrea said.
NOTE: Arizona senior shortstop K’Lee Arredondo was selected a third-team ESPN The Magazine academic All-American, as voted on by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America. Arredondo graduated earlier this month with a degree in psychology and a 3.55 grade-point average.