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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball ends regular season with a bang

    They made the most of their last game of the regular season, going right down to the end. And then some.

    The No. 3 Arizona softball team avoided its third straight home loss with a win over Washington, 5-4 Saturday after first baseman Sam Banister pulled a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning.

    “”I was thinking, ‘Just get a base hit, just get something started,'”” said Banister, who was 0-for-6 in previous at bats against the Huskies (35-16, 12-9 Pacific 10 Conference) in the series. “”I got something started, and finished.””

    The win saved the Wildcats of much criticism.

    A loss would have marked just the fourth loss at Hillenbrand Stadium for the Wildcats (39-12-1, 15-5-1) this season, after losing to the Huskies (5-1) and UCLA (7-4) Friday and Thursday, respectively.

    The only other time Arizona has lost four games at home since 1992 was in 2003 and 1999, when they lost five.

    “”The change from (Friday) to (Thursday) was pretty significant for us,”” UA head coach Mike Candrea said. “”It would be tough going into the playoffs losing three at home.””

    Junior Taryne Mowatt (31-10) is credited with the win for Arizona. She gave up four runs on nine hits in eight innings. In the 158 pitches that she threw, she walked three and struck out nine, moving into fifth on Arizona’s all time strikeout list with 741.

    “”It was a great day for Taryne,”” Candrea said of his pitcher who took the loss for the Wildcats Thursday and Friday. “”She took some steps in the last 24 hours (between games) growing up a little bit and understanding that it takes nine out there to make things happen.””

    Down 4-1 in the sixth inning, shortstop Kristie Fox and third baseman Jenae Leles each hit singles. Balko followed the trend, hitting an RBI single to cut the Huskies’ lead to two.

    “”It’s good to know, that even down three runs, we still had the fight in us and didn’t give up,”” said Balko, who was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in the home stand before the at-bat.

    Caitlin Noble started for the Huskies, but was replaced by Danielle Lawrie (24-10) after a sacrifice bunt from Banister moved the runners to second and third. Lawrie eventually allowed Banister’s game-winner to pick up the loss after getting the win on Friday.

    Then designated player Sarah Akamine hit a sacrifice fly to left field. Tagging up, Leles scored from third, bringing the Wildcats within one.

    The next better, left fielder K’Lee Arredondo, doubled into the left-center gap, scoring Balko from second and tying the game at 4.

    “”The offense really backed me up and supported me out there,”” Mowatt said. “”I tried to stay mentally tough and, yeah, I was a little frustrated, but I didn’t want my teammates to know. I knew that my offense would come around and score.””

    After going 0-for-3 Friday night, right fielder Lauren Greer gave her team a 2-1 lead after she hit her fifth home run of the year. The two-run shot to dead center field came two pitches after Mowatt hit catcher Alicia Matthews in the elbow with two outs.

    Eight of Arizona’s 12 losses this season have been the result of a go-ahead home run from the opposing team, but Mowatt was sure that this wouldn’t be the ninth.

    When asked if she was sure she wasn’t going to be swept this weekend, she said with a laugh, “”No. Never.””

    But the Huskies weren’t convinced.

    Lawrie took a 3-2 offering to left-center field in the sixth inning, her ninth home run of the season and her second in two games.

    Mowatt walked the next batter, and Greer ripped an RBI double down the left-field line, putting the Huskies up 4-1.

    “”As a hitter, it’s so hard for me to sit back and watch her work so hard and not be able to do anything,”” Banister said of Mowatt. “”It’s frustrating because no one is hitting and she’s working her butt off, so you want to just go up there and get on anyway you can, whether you get on on an error or hit a home run, and I’m glad we picked it up for her.””

    Extra Bases

    The Division I Women’s Softball Selection Show will air from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday on ESPNews. . . . Seniors Fox, Chelsie Mesa, and Caitlin Lowe were all honored after the game on Saturday as part of Senior Day festivities. . . . Friday night’s sluggers for each team were stifled this time around. Washington shortstop Ashley Charters and Arizona’s Mesa each went 4-for-4 on Friday, but on Saturday each went 0-for-3 with a walk . . . Mowatt handled UW first baseman Dena Tyson, who came into the series with 17 home runs, a .449 batting average and a blistering .915 slugging percentage. She went 0-for-6 in the two games against Arizona and saw her average drop to .427

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