UA SOFTBALL NOTES

Arizona notebook: Penn calls it 'honor' to face Cats

2013-05-18T00:00:00Z 2013-05-18T15:48:00Z Arizona notebook: Penn calls it 'honor' to face CatsPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -Penn made its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance Friday, and was greeted by 14 Texas A&M hits in a 12-0, five-inning loss.

The Quakers managed one hit and no walks against the No. 16 overall seed, striking out in half their 16 at-bats.

The Ivy League champions' reward today: a game against the eight-time national champion Arizona Wildcats.

Welcome to the NCAA softball tournament, Quakers.

"I'd like to thank the NCAA for sending us to our first regional - in the hardest regional in the country," Penn coach Leslie King said with a smile.

The loser of today's game between the 30-19 Quakers and 32-25 Wildcats goes home. The Quakers said they're not intimidated.

"They're historically a great program," King said about the Cats. "It's a great honor to be able to play them. We're looking forward to that challenge. …

"It's an opportunity. That's how we're looking at it. It's a great experience for our kids.

"We're not afraid of anybody. We're just going to go out there and play our softball and see what happens."

Lauren Li, who allowed two runs in 2 1/3 innings, said "the only thing we can do after (Friday) is learn from it."

The Quakers pitcher guessed the environment today "won't be as crazy" as it was for the Texas A&M game.

Penn second baseman Samantha Erosa said the Quakers can only get better today.

"Just keep our heads up," she said. "Make more solid contact."

BDP moved up

Brigette Del Ponte started what might be the last weekend of her college career in an unfamiliar spot: cleanup.

The senior shortstop hit fourth for the UA after spending the second half of the season even lower because of her struggles at the plate.

Coach Mike Candrea was playing a hunch with Del Ponte, a .247 hitter this season after three dominant years at the UA.

"She's been swinging the bat real well," he said. "I kinda felt like, being a senior, this could be a breakout moment."

It wasn't. Del Ponte went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a flyout.

Candrea said she was "collapsing so darn much" - squatting her body instead of standing tall when she swings.

"It's hard sometimes to kinda see that same mistake all the time," he said. "In (batting practice) she looks completely different. …

"But that's a big part of this game. If you watch the majority of the hitters at this level, you'll see a different swing in BP than you do in the game, because their adrenaline is not going all the time.

"And that's the mark of maturity, being able to understand that."

Candrea said that despite her struggles, Del Ponte "has hung in there" this season.

"Mentally, I like what she's done for this team," he said, "and I have a lot of confidence in her."

Inside pitch

• If the Wildcats end up playing 40-15 Baylor tonight, Shelby Babcock might have a small edge.

Because she only pitched to six Bears on Friday, the hitters might not know her well.

"It's always good to not have people see you and go out and be able to throw your stuff - they don't know you," she said.

• Whitney Canion will likely start for Baylor today against Texas A&M.

"We're gonna ride our horse," coach Glenn Moore said.

• The Aggies (40-15) were pleased with making quick work of Penn, so starter Mel Dumezich could rest. She threw 22 pitches over two innings before being removed. Texas A&M wants to limit Dumezich's innings when it's possible.

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