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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Balko’s game-winning hit pushes softball past Missouri

    The No. 2 Arizona softball team beat Missouri 5-4 on a game-winning RBI single by catcher Callista Balko in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night at Hillenbrand Stadium.

    With the game tied 4-4, center fielder Caitlin Lowe led off the bottom of the seventh inning with an infield single, her second hit of the game.

    Lowe stole second base and then third, giving her four steals in the ball game.
    Missouri then elected to intentionally walk both shortstop Kristie Fox and third baseman Jenae Leles, loading the bases for Balko. Balko was hitless in three at-bats to that point in the game.

    With the count full, Balko ripped the payoff pitch down the third base line, driving in Lowe for the winning run and the Arizona win.

    “”Outstanding, I love it to death,”” UA head coach Mike Candrea said. “”She’s made of nails, and she showed it right there.””

    Balko said she took it personally when Missouri intentionally walked two batters to get to her.

    “”That really made me mad,”” she said. “”I took it personally and even though I was 0-3 before that I had seen her enough times that I knew what she was throwing and knew my timing, so I felt a little more confident in the last at-bat.””

    Arizona jumped on top of Missouri early in the game thanks to second baseman Chelsie Mesa.

    Mesa wasted no time in extending her team-best hitting streak to 12 games, clubbing a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.

    Arizona threatened in the second inning as well. Designated player Laine Roth doubled down the first-base line to open the inning.

    Before the double Roth hadn’t had an extra base hit in her last 28 games dating back to last season.

    After a fly-out by first baseman Sam Banister, freshman left fielder K’Lee Arredondo laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Roth to third.

    But right fielder Adrienne Acton couldn’t deliver and struck out looking to end the Wildcat threat.

    Missouri finally figured out UA pitcher Taryne Mowatt in the third inning. After striking out the inning’s first batter, Mowatt walked Tiger Leanne Bowers on four pitches. Then Fox threw the ball away, allowing Andee Allen to go to second and Bowers to go to third.

    Mowatt got up one ball and two strikes on Amanda Renth before the junior belted the next pitch over the outfield wall for a three-run home run, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

    But Arizona answered right back. Lowe reached on an error to start the Arizona third and then stole second two pitches later. Mesa flew out to deep center field, bringing Fox to the plate.

    Fox atoned for her throwing error in the top of the inning by driving in Lowe with a single up the middle. The RBI was Fox’s team-leading 18th of the season.

    In the fourth Arredondo hit her first career home run to dead center-field.

    “”It felt good to finally get my swing back,”” Arredondo said. “”I’m seeing the ball better finally, and I’m getting the pitches that I want to get and driving the ball.””

    Controversy erupted in the fifth inning over a called foul ball by home plate umpire Mike Bartling.

    What appeared to be a routine ground out back to the pitcher by Renth was originally ruled a hit by pitch. The Arizona coaching staff vehemently complained as boos rained down from the Arizona crowd.

    UA assistant coach Larry Ray was the most heated and was ejected from the game for arguing. He continued to protest the call and then shoved Bartling before being restrained by Candrea.

    “”In my opinion it was blown call after blown call,”” Ray said. “”The umpires refuse to look at a players’ reaction. If the ball would’ve hit her in the forearm she’d have been hurting.””

    “”I’m just frustrated that they continue to miss that, that’s all it was,”” he added.

    The umpires eventually ruled that the ball had hit the end of Renth’s bat and bounced in the batter’s box for a foul ball before rolling into the field of play. On the very next pitch Renth blasted a home run to dead center field to give Missouri a 4-3 lead.

    UA responded in the bottom of the fifth as Lowe once again led off with a single before stealing second. Mesa drove her in to tie the game at 4-4.

    Missouri threatened again in the top of the seventh, but Mowatt was able to pitch out of a two-on, one-out jam to set up Balko’s heroics.

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