When Alex Lavine was a little girl, she had two gloves - one left-handed and one right-handed - that she chose from every day.
The Arizona Wildcats junior is naturally ambidextrous. She writes, bowls and plays pool left-handed, but throws with her right arm.
She hit right-handed, too - until last summer. That's when she taught herself to be a left-handed slapper after a lifetime swinging away right-handed.
Lavine started at shortstop as a freshman but was little-used last year.
Something had to change, and she discussed with her dad switching sides of the plate. At Lavine's exit meeting last June, Candrea asked if she'd ever done it before.
"Well, I slapped for a month when I was 10," Lavine said this week, as the Wildcats prepared for their regular-season-ending three-game series at Stanford.
She decided to try.
"Alex is one of those kids where, you tell her to do something, and she's going to do it," Candrea said. "You tell her she can't do something, and she's going to do it. ...
"It was something she kinda embraced. She realized one asset she has is foot speed.
"If she could learn to put the ball on the ground, she would probably have a better chance of making things happen than swinging away from the right side."
To slap, Lavine must take timed steps toward the pitcher, hoping to hit the ball downward by using her hands and not the rest of her upper body, and try to outrun the throw to first.
"The timing's hard, because it's different for every pitcher," she said. "I still get a little uncomfortable sometimes."
Lavine has started all but one game this season, hitting .289 as the team's No. 9 hitter. Last weekend was her best; against Arizona State, she went 5 for 11 with three RBIs and three runs.
"I probably felt the most comfortable I've ever felt this weekend," she said.
"I felt really confident.
"Ready to go."
Perhaps no player better embodies this year's UA team than Lavine, who was installed in center field two weeks before the season.
The Wildcats' opening- day lineup featured a new player at every single field position. Their current iteration features four who have moved to new positions or have been promoted to starter since the season began.
"Center field was easy, compared to learning to hit left-handed," she said.
Lavine played the position until her senior year of high school.
"She's done a good job," Candrea said.
The Wildcats (30-23, 7-14) feel better about themselves following the series win against No. 5 ASU, which likely guaranteed them a spot in the NCAA tournament when seeds are announced Sunday.
The UA can only help its RPI of 29 at No. 13 Stanford (35-17, 12-9).
"Right now, we've just got to take care of ourselves and control what we can," Candrea said. "The rest will take care of itself."
• What: Arizona Wildcats at No. 13 Stanford, three-game series
• Times: Today at 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Arizona); Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at noon
Contact reporter Patrick Finley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4658. On Twitter @PatrickFinley