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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball shows lackluster offense in win

It’s either one or the other.

A day after Arizona (15-1) twice run-ruled New Mexico State University despite a few defensive miscues, an anemic Wildcat offense and a steadfast defense did just enough against the University of Northern Iowa (8-3) Thursday night to defeat the Panthers 4-1.

“”Our hitting has to be on all the time,”” said pitcher Sarah Akamine. “”Our defense was amazing today. We just have to put two and two together.””

Akamine was a surprise starter after ace Kenzie Fowler “”tweaked”” her knee before the game began, according to head coach Mike Candrea.

Fowler was not available for comment following the game.

Akamine threw seven innings for the first time this season, turning in an eight-strikeout, four-hit performance and improving her season record to 4-1. She didn’t finish well, however, lobbing a solo home run to UNI catcher Courtney Dunker in the top of the seventh inning. Despite the late run, Candrea was pleased with the senior’s performance overall.

“”I thought she threw extremely well at times,”” he said.

“”I thought we played well defensively, and that’s a huge part of the equation,”” Candrea added. “”But I thought offensively we stunk.””

Freshman Brigette Del Ponte hit her third home run in three games, nearly smashing the ball over the left field bleachers. The two-run shot gave the Wildcats a 4-0 lead by scoring designated player Stacie Chambers. Chambers was on base after hitting an RBI that scored shortstop K’Lee Arredondo from first base thanks to a Panther error.

Del Ponte, who went 2-for-3 at bat Thursday, now has five home runs on the season and is tied with sophomore Lini Koria for the team lead. Chambers, freshman Baillie Kirker and junior Brittany Lastrapes are right behind the pair with four homers apiece.

But Thursday, Candrea wasn’t satisfied with only four points.

“”I just thought we gave away too many at-bats,”” he said. “”I thought we weren’t on time seeing the ball well. That’s frustrating.””

The Wildcats’ first score came after Panther starting pitcher Melissa Tillett consecutively walked sophomore Kristen Arriola and freshman Becca Tikey with two outs. Leadoff hitter Lastrapes dropped a hit into shallow left field to score Arriola and give the Wildcats a one-run lead in the bottom of the second inning.

Tillett was replaced by Jaye Hutcheson after two full innings, but Hutcheson didn’t fare well against the Arizona offense.

The Wildcats threatened to score in the bottom of the fifth inning after singles by Del Ponte and Koria. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third bases, but Arriola was thrown out at first and the game, unlike Wednesday’s two-game series, went past the fifth inning.

After the game ended, Candrea, who expected a larger margin of victory, questioned his players’ preparation.

“”If we better prepare, then we’ll run-rule them next time,”” Del Ponte said. “”You can tell not everyone was giving their best effort, but I think that’s going to change now.””

 

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