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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball hosts Stanford, looks to snap early inning funk

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs San Diego State University

The No. 19 Arizona softball team got off to a rough start in a must-win series against No. 13 Stanford on Friday night as it dropped the opener 4-1. The team got back on plate and won games two and three, however, with a combined score of 13-6 over the Cardinal.

“It was definitely a must-win game for us and our season I think kind of hinged on today’s game,” assistant coach Larry Ray said.

Arizona (23-9, 2-4) pitcher Shelby Babcock threw one of the best games of her career on Sunday with seven strikeouts and just one run on three hits.

“I tip my hat off to Babcock, I mean she threw the best game of her career today,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “When it gets into Pac-12 games like that, it’s what it takes. It revolves around the pitching, timely hitting, and good defense.”

Stanford’s lone run crossed the plate in the fourth, but Babcock responded by retiring the remaining 12 Stanford hitters.

“I think the players are having a lot more confidence when Shelby’s on the mound,” Ray said. “It used to be a lot of walks would get us in trouble and she’s eliminated that now. Now we have two outstanding pitchers.”

Babcock pitched two of the three games in the series and is battling with Kenzie Fowler for the top spot in the pitching rotation.

“Everything was just clicking today,” Babcock said. “Physically and mentally I felt great. We worked as a team and we’re learning how to fight back.”

After falling in game one with a season-low of two hits off Stanford ace Teagan Gerhart, the Wildcats received stern but encouraging words from Candrea in preparation for game two, when they came back and won a run-rule-shortened game.

“We have to be a little bit more aggressive, the Pac-12 is very tough,” Ray said. “They’re going to just have to battle. Take it one pitch at a time.”

Third baseman Brigette Del Ponte carried the team at the plate this weekend hitting the first triple of the season and bringing Hallie Wilson home for the only score in game one. She returned on Saturday with a pair of homers, and now leads the team with 35 RBIs this season. Baillie Kirker followed suit with four RBIs of her own to aid in Saturday’s win.

“I’m just happy we won this series. I’m very relieved,” Del Ponte said. ”It was a big deal to win considering its our first win and how we did against ASU.”

The UA’s bats remained solid, winning Sunday’s game 3-1. Shelby Pendley started up the offense with a solo homer to right field.

“I think everybody came to the plate with a plan today so they knew what to expect,” Del Ponte said. “I think we just need to have fun and get excited about playing the game again and not just always having our back against the wall.”

She is only the second player in Arizona history to land a ball on Gittings Gym and leads the team with 12 homers this season.

Lini Koria kept up the energy with a two-run homer to center field in the fourth to cap the lead. All four runs scored in Sunday’s game came from homers.

But despite the series win, Candrea cautioned about getting too caught up in wins and losses.

“We need to stop worrying about the wins and losses and start executing the game,” Candrea said. “Sometimes you get so far ahead of yourself, especially in a traditional program like this.”

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