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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball blasts back

Hallie Bolonkin/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Softball vs. Stanford on April 18, 2010 noon.
Hallie Bolonkin
Hallie Bolonkin/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs. Stanford on April 18, 2010 noon.

With an unsettling feeling after being swept last weekend, the Arizona softball team was anxious to see a Pacific 10 Conference foe visit Hillenbrand Stadium for a three-game set.

And by sweeping the No. 10 Stanford Cardinal this weekend, the No. 3 Wildcats (35-7, 5-4 Pac-10) showed head coach Mike Candrea a positive response to its most tumultuous series of the year.

“”Offensively, this weekend I think we showed some great improvements in some areas, but (we) still have much to go,”” Candrea said. “”We haven’t peaked, that’s for darn sure.””

The Wildcats won 3-2 on Friday and 10-2 on Saturday, both behind the arm of pitcher Kenzie Fowler (24-5). Arizona then managed the Cardinal on Sunday 5-4, despite Stanford chasing senior pitcher Sarah Akamine after 2 1/3 innings and Candrea getting tossed.

Stanford’s pitching crew was hurt throughout the series, after losing ace Teagan Gerhart to an arm injury in Game 1.

For Arizona, Akamine put a number of pitches over the plate Sunday, and Fowler replaced her after she gave up three runs.

“”I just kind of felt like we need to keep ourselves in the game,”” said Candrea, who was hoping to rest Fowler. “”They were on (Akamine) pretty good.””

Arizona’s third inning saw the Wildcats beat up little-used pitcher Jenna Rich, who was eventually replaced by Cardinal Ashley Chinn.

On Sunday, though, a two-run shot by catcher Stacie Chambers and solo bomb by third baseman Brigette Del Ponte gave Arizona a 4-3 lead.

Stanford would tie Game 3 in the fourth, but in the bottom of the inning, Arizona found itself with leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes in scoring position at third. When Chambers popped out, Lastrapes thought she had tagged up and scored at home plate. But home plate umpire Dale Wilson disagreed — his decision ended the inning with the game still tied 4-4.

A furious Candrea then had choice words with Wilson before being was ejected.

“”That gets my blood going,”” shortstop K’Lee Arredondo said after going

4-for-4 Sunday. “”For anyone to kick out coach Candrea … you’re asking for a bruising.””

Designated player Lini Koria would launch a pitch off Chinn over center field to give Arizona the decisive run.

That productivity in the center of the lineup was a recurring theme over the weekend.

No. 4 hitter Chambers hit two home runs in Game 2, a six-inning, 10-2 victory for the Wildcats.

“”I’ve been struggling with a couple things, but I think we finally figured it out,”” Chambers said of her batting technique. “”I need to keep my hands close to my body instead of letting them get away from me.””

Arredondo and Lastrapes also had home runs in the game, one day after Candrea had complained about his hitters swinging too far under the balls which resulted in too many pop-outs.

Meanwhile, Stanford went hitless against Fowler until the fifth inning, when Arizona already had a 6-0 lead. A four-run sixth inning gave the Wildcats the walk-off, run-rule shortened win.

Friday’s opening game was more defense-oriented, but a 3-2 win gave Arizona the momentum leading to the eventual sweep.

Gerhart (22-6) earned the start for Stanford before Arizona jumped on her in the third inning, scoring three runs.

Chinn, who replaced Gerhart, silenced Arizona the rest of the way. The Cardinal would score on a home run by third baseman Shannon Koplitz in the sixth and on an RBI by sophomore Ashley Hansen in the seventh, but Fowler pitched a masterful set in the seventh to extinguish the Stanford rally.

Fowler ended with a four-hit, nine-strikeout performance, and after the weekend, she said a sweep was essential in regaining the team’s confidence.

“”Being swept last weekend, we needed to come out and flip it,”” Fowler said. “”It would have been a lot different if we lost (the last game). We just needed to put a stamp on it and finish it off.””

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