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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona takes series from Oregon; Mauga becomes Arizona all-time home run hitter

Arizonas+Dejah+Mulipola+bats+during+the+UA-Oregon+softball+game+on+April+22.
Sean Gundu

Arizona’s Dejah Mulipola bats during the UA-Oregon softball game on April 22.

A day removed from a thrilling pitching duel, the Arizona Wildcats and Oregon Ducks went at it again in the second game of the series featuring top 10 ranked teams.

Though this time runs were a plenty and history took center stage in Saturdays game, one of the most exciting games of the season. The Wildcats won the series Saturday afternoon with a 10-7 victory over the Ducks, maintaining their strong hold on the Pac-12’s top spot.

Katiyana Mauga broke the Arizona all-time home run record Friday night after ripping an opposite field home run in the 4th inning, passing Stacie Chambers for the programs record. 

“There are no words to describe it, felt like an accomplishment and I’m glad that it’s over,” Mauga said. “It’s a relief off my shoulders but people are still going to talk about the NCAA record, but get this home is definitely an accomplishment.”

Taylor McQuillin took the hill looking to pick up where her teammate Danielle O’Toole left off. McQuillin who is 14-1 this year, has consistently taken the baton from O’Toole providing a one-two punch that has helped win series after series for the No.3 ranked Wildcats.

But Oregon is no push over and right out of the gate the Ducks got to the young sophomore, quickly putting runners on base. Eventually Oregon found themselves on the scoreboard, as Gwen Svekis rocked a three run bomb off McQuillin giving Oregon a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Yet if we’ve learned anything from this Arizona lineup it’s to expect runs in the first inning. Which is exactly what occurred with runners on third and second, when Mo Mercado smacked a hit right at Duck’s third baseman Jenna Lilley, who similar to the night before misplayed the ball allowing Arizona to put an early run on the board.

Again the Oregon Ducks put another talented underclassman ace on the mound in the form of freshman Maggie Balint. Balint has performed well above her age level, so far this season the east coast native has been one of the Pac-12’s best pitcher with a 16-2 record and an ERA of 0.86.

However, the Pennsylvania pitcher was removed in the bottom of the second inning, leaving the bases load. Balint appeared to struggle with gripping the ball, constant wiping of her palms and furry of pass balls was enough to give the freshman the hook.

Balint exited with the bases load and again a ball was hit to third basemen Jenna Lilley who was unable to play it and as the ball found its way into the outfield grass two Wildcats made it home pulling Arizona level with Oregon at three a piece. Aggressive base running by Reyna Carranco gave the Cats the lead after a fielders choice play forced Oregon’s infielders to look for outs elsewhere.

However, the biggest hit of the game was saved for one of Arizona’s best hitters, Katiyana Mauga who absolutely crushed a double with the bases loaded giving Arizona a commending 6-3 lead after two innings.

After Gwen Svekis home run in the first the air and life appeared to sucked out of Hillenbrand stadium. Yet after a wild and wacky inning which saw the Wildcats score five runs, the entire tone of the game changed. That was until Svekis took the plate again in the third and crushed a ball deep to left, collecting her second home run and fifth RBI of the game pulling Oregon within one.

McQuillin, who besides allowing multiple home runs had settled down and found her groove. But in the top of the sixth the sophomore was replaced by Danielle O’Toole, who had thrown a complete game shutout the night before. McQuillin finished the day pitching a solid five innings and had Svekis not had her number, its fair to say she could have gone the distance in this one. She spoke about her performance afterwards.

“I think my performances the past couple of weeks, the wins and the lost to Utah were a bit rough,” McQuillin said. “I just was relaxed tried to stay calm and don’t let anxiety take over, the first inning is all about finding the strike zone and you got to work with what you got. I think she (Svekis) had my number all day but other than that it was a good day.”

Her first batter was Mo Mercado’s sister, Danica, and she wasted no time in asserting her dominance on the Wildcats ace hitting a two run homer that brought Oregon within one.

Arizona would answer back with a response in the bottom frame of the sixth as Alyssa Palomino collected her first hit of the series, an RBI double that extended the Wildcats lead. Palomino won’t be the only freshman to provide offense might in the sixth, Carranco would deliver an RBI double as well giving Arizona a 10-7. Head Coach Mike Candrea spoke about the luxury of having hitters like Palomino and Carranco in the bottom half of the lineup.

“Alyssa has been struggling a little bit and today I told her to get up there and swing the bat like your trying to hurt something not strikeout and she did that,” Candrea said. “Reyna Carranco is the silent stud, she sits down in that 8th spot and just keeps doing it and doing it. She’s gotten better as conference play has gone on and I’m excited about the production she is getting.”

O’Toole came back out in the seventh and was able to finish off the Ducks, preserving the series win for the Wildcats and recording the save.

Up next Arizona goes for the sweep tomorrow at noon.


Follow Noah Sonnet on Twitter.

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