Arizona coach Mike Candrea was optimistic Thursday when asked if star second baseman Reyna Carranco has a chance to play in the Tucson Regional this weekend.
The junior has been sidelined since May 4 when a wild pitch left her with a broken left (non-throwing) hand and a broken right thumb, but she appears to be making solid progress in her recovery.
“Well, it’s pretty much day to day right now,” Candrea said Thursday, the day before UA’s postseason opener vs. Harvard. “She swung the bat last night and actually took a little batting practice. So I’m hoping today she’s feeling good, and we’ll see what she can do today. But the glove hand is probably the slowest thing for her coming back, just being able to squeeze the glove.”
Carranco arrived at Hillenbrand Stadium Thursday with a light brace on her left arm. She took it off as practice began, but it is unclear how much she participated since practices are closed off to media during the NCAA Tournament.
When Carranco left the stadium, her left arm was wrapped with ice.
Since broken bones usually take about four to six weeks to fully heal, Candrea acknowledged last week that how much Carranco plays this postseason will be determined by how much pain she can tolerate and how quickly she can get back up to speed.
“I would like to have Reyna in the lineup because Reyna can do a few things,” Candrea said. “I mean, she not only swings away, but she can short game, she’s a good bunter. She brings a lot to the table. I would take her at 80 percent on any given day.”
Boasting a .433 average, Carranco won the Pac-12 batting title, serving as a consistent force near the top of Arizona’s batting order. She was also a steady defender, being named to the conference’s all-defensive team.
But sophomore Hanah Bowen has done an admirable job in Carranco’s stead, tallying four hits in her last five games, including her first career homer in the regular-season finale against UCLA.
With or without Carranco, the sixth-seeded Wildcats believe they have a lineup that can do plenty of damage in the postseason.
“Honestly there hasn’t been a big change,” said centerfielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. “Obviously yes, Reyna is a huge bat in our lineup. She was batting champ of the Pac-12 and that was huge, but I think Bo has come in strong. She’s got a great eye at the plate and she’s got some big key hits for us since Reyna has been out.”