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Arizona softball strives to be themselves on the diamond in upcoming Hillenbrand Invitational

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Sometimes it takes stepping back for a minute and looking at something to decide what the facts are. That was certainly the case for Arizona softball head coach Caitlin Lowe when it came to the Wildcats’ performances last weekend.

Immediately after Arizona lost to No. 2 Alabama on Feb. 12, Lowe said she felt that they had some “calm, cool, (and) collected” at-bats against Lexi Kilfoyl. After watching film, she has changed her mind, especially about the early trips to the batter's box.

“Honestly, after watching a whole lot of video and talking to coach (Lauren Lappin) about it, I just don’t feel like we looked like ourselves,” Lowe said. “We were kind of reacting to strikes at the beginning. So I’m hoping we can kind of take a more aggressive approach this weekend.”

She didn’t think the problem was confined to the Alabama game, either. She also felt the Wildcats let strikes go down the middle against New Mexico, getting themselves into holes that they had trouble climbing out of.

What she did like about the New Mexico game was seeing No. 1 pitcher Hanah Bowen rebound from the Alabama game even though she didn’t have her best stuff either day.

“I think it was important for her to get in there and she was cruising and it’s hard to take someone out when they’re feeling that way,” Lowe said. “And, in the big moments, she was making the big pitches. And, honestly, she didn’t have her best stuff on Sunday, but she figured out a way, and I think that’s going to be the story of this year.”

Arizona will need to figure out a way again this weekend. They will face a slate of UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, and No. 16 Kentucky on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

For sophomore Allie Skaggs, it will mean facing several friends from her days in high school. The Skaggs family is from Tucson and both parents attended Arizona, but she grew up predominantly in Kentucky. She was the Gatorade Player of the Year for that state before her family relocated back to Tucson for her senior season in high school.

“I can’t wait,” Skaggs said. “I have a couple buddies that I played with in club ball that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. They were a couple of years older than me, so they graduated. When I was a sophomore, they were seniors, so I haven’t seen them since then and I also haven’t played against them in a long time. I can’t wait. I was around UK softball quite a bit. Been going to camps since I was in eighth grade, stuff like that. I know the coaching staff very well. I think playing against your friends is awesome even with Alabama, playing against Kaylee Tow and Montana Fouts who are from Kentucky, as well.”

Their coach has a message that she feels will help going forward. She thought they got away from being themselves in the last two games of the weekend. Now, it’s time to turn that back and slow down.

“I just thought we were a little quiet and tight, and we weren’t playing loose, and I think it affected both sides of the ball,” Lowe said. “So I think it’s just being themselves and just kind of settling into ‘this is what we do every single day on the field at practice.’”