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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball blasts ASU for two wins

Freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler rounds a base after hitting a grand slam that helped the Wildcats route the ASU Sun Devils 14-2 Saturday in Tempe. The Wildcats took two of three games from their rivals.
Freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler rounds a base after hitting a grand slam that helped the Wildcats route the ASU Sun Devils 14-2 Saturday in Tempe. The Wildcats took two of three games from their rivals.

It was an “”emotional rollercoaster”” for Arizona softball in its opening weekend of Pacific 10 Conference play.

“”Definitely a wild rollercoaster,”” said pitcher Kenzie Fowler. “”It’s going to be like this every weekend, so it’s good to get one under our belts. To come out with a winning series against ASU is even sweeter.””

The No. 2 Wildcats (30-4, 2-1 Pac-10) claimed two of the three games in Arizona’s only regular season at Farrington Stadium in Tempe in dominating fashion, taking Game 1, 12-6, and Game 3 ,14-2 in five innings.

The No. 7 Sun Devils (32-6, 1-2) returned the favor in the middle game, defeating the Wildcats 11-1 in six innings.

“”I told the kids that one thing that you’re going to realize is that from here on out it’s an emotional rollercoaster,”” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “”Twenty-four hours can make a huge difference.””

In the rubber game, the Arizona freshmen bats lit up the scoreboard. Third baseman Brigette Del Ponte hit her team-leading 13th homer of the year, a three-run shot off ASU pitcher Sam Parlich (6-3), Saturday’s winning pitcher.

ASU sophomore Katelyn Boyd, who sported a team-leading .459 batting average heading into the game, had an off-day. At the plate, she was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. The shortstop also had two errors that allowed Del Ponte to reach home and load the bases for Fowler. She followed in Del Ponte-eque fashion — the third baseman has four grand slams on the year — and hit her first career grand slam over the centerfield fence.

Fowler was able to keep the Sun Devils off the scoreboard until the final inning. With two outs in the fifth, ASU junior Lesley Rogers hit a two-run shot to ruin Fowler’s shutout.

Game 1 saw much of the same as the nation’s No. 1 offense made an early statement. Early shots off of Sun Devil ace Hillary Bach gave Arizona a 5-0 lead before the first out was made in the first inning. Bach (15-2), who came into the contest with a 1.26 ERA, left after 4 2/3 innings. A total of 13 hits and three home runs propelled Arizona to the 12-6 shortened game win.

The Wildcats were not running so high in Game 2, however. ASU run-ruled the Wildcats for the first time in Arizona team history. Parlich allowed only four hits and struck out five batters.

Arizona senior Sarah Akamine got the nod in the circle for Candrea. She only went four innings as she gave up a career-high 10 runs. The illegal pitching calls from the previous New Mexico series continued in Tempe. Akamine was tallied for a balk that scored a run and ended the game with five illegal pitches.

Her counterpart, Parlich, kept the Wildcats from crossing the plate until the third inning when catcher Stacie Chambers doubled home center fielder Lauren Schutzler for Arizona’s only score of the game.

“”We were pretty frustrated with ourselves,”” said Del Ponte, who went 0-for-2 in the game. “”We all just went to sleep and woke up (Saturday) morning knowing that we could kick the crap out of ASU.””

Although the rivalry series with ASU wasn’t close in any sense of the word, the lesson of bouncing back is something that Arizona will have to get used to during Pac-10 play. None of the eight teams survived the first weekend of conference play without a loss, including defending national champion Washington, which the Wildcats will play this weekend. The Huskies lost one game to No. 5 UCLA.

“”I knew it was going to be a great way to start off and realize where you’re going to bed,”” Candrea said. “”Sure enough, it was an emotional rollercoaster, so I’m glad we were able to feel that because it could happen again.””

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