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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball downs Washington in opener of pivotal Pac-12 series

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It was neither pretty nor flashy, but the Arizona softball team got its first road Pac-12 Conference win 2-0 against the No. 4 Washington Huskies in Seattle Thursday night.

The story of the game was the pitching of sophomore pitcher Shelby Babcock, who has been on fire as of late, winning three of her last four appearances. Against Washington, Babcock gave up just five hits in a complete game performance against her toughest competition of the season thus far.

“We played a good ball game,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “We got on the board in the second inning, scored two runs, and the rest of it was Babcock and some good plays defensively. We had more opportunities, but what it came down to was quality pitching at the right time and we’re very proud of her.”

Babcock’s confidence has soared since moving into the top spot in the rotation, and has no plans on slowing down for the rest of the season.

“I just went in knowing that’s what I was going to do,” Babcock said. “I’m very proud of my defense behind me. It’s a great confidence booster when you have your teammates behind you.”

Candrea said Babcock has seized the opportunity created by ace Kenzie Fowler’s health issues this season.

“Right now you go with the hot hand,” Candrea said. “She’s definitely earned this opportunity and she’s taking advantage of it. Right now Babcock has earned the right and definitely wanted the ball, and has done a good job.”

The Wildcats (24-9, 3-4 Pac-12) only equaled Washington’s five hits, but timely hitting in the second inning proved to be the difference. Freshman Shelby Pendley led off the inning with a single to center before scoring on a Kristen Arriola double. Freshman outfielder Hallie Wilson was able to drive Arriola home on a single to right field. Wilson led the team in hits with three.

The Wildcats took advantage of three Washington errors, including using the play that put Arriola in a position to score.

“We really were able to put stuff together,” Wilson said. “We were finding different ways to get on bases, which gave a boost to our offense. It’s so good to finally win the first game of a series.”

The improved Wildcat offense will have another chance to display its newfound ability to keep opponents at bay tonight and Saturday afternoon.

“Our offense battled against their pitcher, and our defense was great,” Babcock said of the Wildcats’ ability to put together a complete game. “Everything was clicking. I think we have a very good chance at the rest of the series.”

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