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Arizona’s Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza overcame worst stretch of career to be Pac-12 Player of the Week

COLLEGE SOFTBALL: MAR 07 Boise State at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Softball is a game of highs and lows. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza can attest to that.

After a five-game hitless streak, the longest of her career, the senior center fielder put together a series that earned her Pac-12 Player of Week honors. APC hit .727 (8 for 11) with two homers, a triple, two doubles, four walks and eight RBI in Arizona’s four-game sweep of Oregon State.

Her season batting average spiked all the way from .302 to .375.

“Yeah, this game is a roller coaster,” she said. “And Coach (Candrea) always says that we play a game of failure and it’s just kind of how we handle that failure. And I think just not letting the game get too big or too small, but kind of staying in that straight line of not getting too high or too low and just remembering that we’ve been playing the game for so long and it hasn’t changed. So it was just getting back to that confident mindset of, ‘I can hit any pitcher and I can get the job done in any situation.’”

Palomino-Cardoza said all it took was one hit to find her groove. Her first base knock of the weekend was a blooper into center that plated a run in Friday’s 7-0 win.

She then broke out for seven hits over her next three games, including a pair of three-hit games to close the weekend. That included a triple, two homers and six RBI in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

“There’s a lot of ups and downs, and like I always say, the mental part of the game is so huge because it will humble you,” Candrea said. “You can have a weekend where you’re seeing the ball really big and maybe the matchup with those pitchers kind of suits your eyes—and then the next weekend it looks like an aspirin. That’s just the way the game is and you just have to have short term memory and you have to just keep working with the process and I think she’s done that. I think she’s kind of found some little niches right now to maybe help her.

“Like I told the team, I said there’s two things you got to control and it’s your eyes and your mind. ... And I think this past weekend we did a really good job of making some good adjustments and got some key hits, and offense is catching and that’s the way this game has always been. So I’m very proud of her that she got the honor and we’ll see what she does this weekend.”

Yeah, we’ll see. Arizona will face Stanford—the Pac-12 team with the second-best ERA—on the road, where they have struggled this season. Palomino-Cardoza is confident Arizona can keep their bats hot away from Hillenbrand this time.

In her last 15 at-bats away from home, she has one hit and nine strikeouts.

“I think playing at home this weekend kind of helped us find out that we’re still a good team, we can still hit, we can still play,” APC said. “So I think going into Stanford, that’s just the same mentality that we have to have: we’re still a good team and no matter where we play. We just need to stick to Arizona softball.”

APC is no film junkie

Palomino-Cardoza’s bounceback weekend definitely cannot be attributed to her studying film of the opposing pitchers. She said she has never done that in her six seasons in the program.

“It depends on who you are and what you need,” she said. “So for me, I don’t watch any film. I know other teammates of mine watch film all the time so they can have an idea.”

Candrea said the players have great access to footage but he has never been one to force them to watch it. For some players it gives them a better idea of what to expect. For others it causes them to think too much.

Left fielder Janelle Meoño, who will likely start in center field next season, doesn’t watch film either. She leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.471), so clearly she’s doing fine without it.

“I just talk to Cait (Lowe) mainly,” she said. “She just gives me the inside about what [the pitcher] throws and where it’s gonna be at. Like inside, outside, up, down. But mainly it’s just trusting and remembering who you are. You’re here for a reason and you’re meant to be in that moment.”