Two weeks ago, Mike Candrea met individually with his Arizona Wildcats softball players.
"It was a confidence-builder," third baseman Brigette Del Ponte said.
"He told me I'm a good player. And I need to relax and stop thinking so much."
The idea of Del Ponte over-thinking an at-bat would have seemed odd one year ago, when she starred as a freshman despite not being a particular fan of stick-and-ball sports.
Candrea remarked often - and was borderline offended - that she didn't even like watching baseball on television.
This year, however, the third baseman has matured entering the UA's weekend series at Oregon State.
This year's over-thinking label came from her "trying to guess pitches" based on situations, Del Ponte said.
"She's much more cerebral," Candrea said. "She'll ask more questions. That's the sign of someone that's inquisitive.…
"What happens is, you get kids that become sophomores and juniors, and people have the book on them."
Del Ponte said that, looking at last season, "there are so many plays and at-bats that I would have saved … if I learned the game better."
A more mature Del Ponte has dominated this season.
Since her conversation with Candrea two weeks ago, she has 11 hits in 19 at-bats - and all were extra-base hits.
Eight were doubles, three home runs.
To put her six-game run in perspective, only two other UA players have hit eight or more doubles all season.
Del Ponte had eight doubles in 183 at-bats all last year.
"I would say that I'm seeing the ball better and recognizing the spins more," the sophomore Peoria native said. "And reading the pitcher to figure out what's more likely going to come."
Del Ponte, who has a career-best 10-game hitting streak, was named Pac-10 Player of the Week after recording 10 RBIs in 10 at-bats against Cal State-Northridge March 25-27.
"She's a very aggressive player, especially offensively," Candrea said. "She's going to have her share of strikeouts, but she's going to run into a lot of balls."
Del Ponte's 12 home runs are tied for second on the team and tied for No. 14 in the NCAA.
Her .354 batting average is fourth-best on the Wildcats, her 45 RBIs second-best.
Del Ponte, who last season set UA freshman records with 21 homers and 80 RBIs, said she wasn't sure if this stretch was the best of her career.
"I can't remember that far," she said. "But I feel good. It's a good feeling."
The Wildcats (32-6, 3-0 Pac-10) feel even better after sweeping three games at Stanford last weekend. After the road trip to Corvallis, Ore., the UA will have only one road series remaining this season.
"It was very nice to see the energy level of the team," Candrea said. "They were having fun playing the game. They're competing hard, and their performance was good.
"If they look back and realize how they felt - and why they felt that way - and to be able to capture that, they're a step closer to performing."
Del Ponte was optimistic, too - with good reason.
"If we played every team like we'd play Stanford," she said, "we'd win every game."
• Who: Arizona at Oregon State
• When: Today, 3 p.m.; Saturday, noon; Sunday, 11 a.m.
'Much more cerebral'
Brigette Del Ponte has found the mental side of softball, and it's paying off:
11 for 19
Del Ponte's batting since a chat with coach Mike Candrea two weeks ago.
Doubles and home runs in that stretch. All her hits were for extra bases.