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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Mauga ties record and Arizona softball takes game one from Ducks

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Anthony Ruggiero

Arizona pitcher Danielle O’Toole (3) throws during the softball game against Oregon on April 21 at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. 

Pac-12 play resumed for the Arizona Wildcats at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday night as they welcome the No.6 ranked Oregon Ducks to town, the Pac-12 Conference champs over the last four seasons. The Wildcats prevailed in the series’ first game blanking the Ducks 2-0.

“It was absolutely amazing, we work really hard, it’s a big series from us and we were just trying to come out and play our game which we were able to do to night,” said Ashleigh Hughes.

For the most part, game one was a pitcher’s duel, pitting Arizona’s Danielle O’Toole against one of the Ducks young and upcoming pitchers Megan Kleist.

Oregon opened up the series throwing out their No.2 pitcher, Kleist, a sophomore who’s been consistent throughout the season sporting a 13-2 record.

Kleist had Arizona’s number holding the powerful offense well below its average of seven runs per game. The muscle of Arizona’s was quieter than usual, with batters like Dejah Mulipola, Mo Mercado and Alyssa Palomino going a combined 0-9.

As for Danielle O’Toole, the Wildcats ace delivered another strong outing. The senior faced her toughest inning late in the game as she was caught in a bases load jam with one out in the fifth.

Though to almost no surprise she was able to edge her way out of the inning unscathed. O’Toole collected her 24th win of the season, while throwing her seventh shutout of the season. She explained what went into her success Friday night.

“I just went with whatever Oregon was doing and went with that, made sure to really go at it in tonight’s game,” O’Toole said.

A Mercado chopper hit to third was misplayed by Ducks third basemen Jenna Lilley, allowing Mandie Perez to score form second giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead in the game’s first inning. Lilley had a rather forgettable game going 0-3 and failing to produce in a bases load 5th inning, that undoubtedly was the Ducks best chance to get on the scoreboard.

But one run that wasn’t left own was a bomb from Katiyana Mauga in the bottom of the 5th inning that brought the crowd to its feet. With the home run, Mauga tied the schools all-time home run record with 87. Arizona head Coach Mike Candrea commented on her growth as a player over the years.

“Everyone talks about her home runs but she’s grown up and matured so much,” Candrea said. “I think she’s become a better teammate, done the little things and that’s what makes me proud.”

For Mercado this game and series as a whole will offer one of the rare moments in sport, where two siblings are pitted against one another. With her sister Danica both cheering and jeering from the opposing dugout, the Mercado sisters were playing for family bragging rights as much as they were playing for a potential conference title.

Both sisters had their struggles at the plate due in large part to the phenomenal pitching on display. Mercado finished 0-3 only reaching base on an error in the first, while her sister was able to reach base after in the 5th finishing the game 1-3.

Up next for the Wildcats is the second game of the series tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium.


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