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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball blows past UNM

A windstorm, an ejection and a blowout — in a diverse, three-game weekend series, the Arizona softball team swept the University of New Mexico by scoring 32 runs while only giving up two.

Capped by Sunday’s Game 3 which saw Arizona (28-3) freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler (18-2) throw her second no-hitter of the year and the offense blow through UNM pitchers for 14 runs, the weekend also included an 8-0 Friday win in freezing wind and a 10-2 Saturday victory in which UA head coach Mike Candrea got ejected for arguing with the umpire.””We overmatched New Mexico,”” Candrea said. “”They didn’t have really any pitching. We did what we needed to do, which was win, put some runs on the board (and) play good defense.””

Catcher Stacie Chambers led the charge in the second game, drilling a pair of home runs after the Wildcats fell behind 1-0 to the Lobos (10-19) in the first inning. That was a result of the first base umpire calling pitcher Sarah Akamine (10-1) for four illegal pitches, three of which resulted in balks.

According to the umpire, Akamine was taking her foot off the rubber, Chambers said, leading to Candrea’s frustration and eventual ejection.

“”She’s never been called on that in four years,”” Chambers said. “”As soon as the umpire started being rude to (Candrea) … I mean, coach doesn’t back down. He’s going to fight it.””

With Candrea gone, the Wildcats’ deficit was short-lived.

They rolled to the 10-2 victory behind home runs by Chambers, designated player Lini Koria and first baseman Alicia Banks. With usual first base starter Baillie Kirker missing the games with bruised ribs, Banks filled in admirably, hitting her first home run of the season.

And with sophomore Karissa Buchanan still out with a broken finger, Candrea threw freshman Matte Haack into right field, mostly to give her experience at the plate.

“”(I) just kind of stuck her out there,”” Candrea said of Haack, who hasn’t played the outfield in her career.

Throughout the weekend, Arizona braved cold weather in Albuquerque. The first game was played in wind gusts reported to be upward of 50 mph.

Fowler allowed two hits and Arizona jumped on top, going into the bottom of the first inning with a 5-0 lead after Brittany Lastrapes took the first pitch she saw out of the park.

But Fowler was even more impressive in Sunday’s blowout, striking out eight and only walking two Lobos.

“”She hit her spots well. She got the batters off-guard,”” Chambers said. “”She was just on today.””

Meanwhile, the offense earned 16 hits. Freshman Brigette Del Ponte knocked in four RBIs, but the four players hitting ahead of her in the lineup — Lastrapes, outfielder Lauren Schutzler, shortstop K’Lee Arredondo and Chambers — all earned at least two hits.

Even Fowler got into the offensive groove, nabbing 3-for-4 at the plate and hitting her first career bomb in the 14-0 drubbing.

Schutzler currently leads the team with a .448 batting average while Del Ponte and Lastrapes have a tie for the team lead with 11 home runs on the season.

“”We know if one of us goes up there and we don’t get a hit,”” Chambers said, “”we always know there’s somebody behind us that can hit.””

After rolling through a nonconference schedule with only three losses, the Wildcats now face the grueling Pacific 10 Conference schedule beginning at ASU this Thursday.

“”It’s great that we did what we needed to do,”” Candrea said. “”Now we start ramping it up.””

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