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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats dodge upset loss, walk-off on Pendley’s blast

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

The inconsistent Arizona softball team almost let another one get away from it on Wednesday, coming back from a 6-1 deficit to sweep San Diego State 8-6, thanks to a walk-off home run by freshman Shelby Pendley in the eighth inning.

The start of the game was much like Tuesday’s, with lots of defensive energy and a scoreless first inning.

All-American Kenzie Fowler pitched for the Wildcats but didn’t play like her usual self, giving up a home run to the Aztecs’ Haley Miles in the third inning. Fowler pitched seven innings until she was relieved by Shelby Babcock in the eight, but gave up eight hits and six runs, all earned, compared to just six strikeouts, three below her season average.

“She’s lost a little confidence, we’ll have to just get that back for her,” said assistant coach Larry Ray, who’s filling in for Mike Candrea. “Giving up the home run at the end, I know she felt real bad. We all did. (The umpire’s) zone was very tight and she had to really bring the ball in there. With good hitters, they’re going to take advantage of that.”

Before Miles’ home run, San Diego State was able to take advantage of fielding mishaps, such as a bobbled ball by Brigette Del Ponte, with two outs on the board, that would have ended an inning before SDSU’s Justeen Maeva doubled down the third base line to increase the lead to 2-0.

“Those are the types of things that have gotten us all year,” Ray said. “We walk a runner into scoring position, and ‘boom,’ they get a base hit and score a run. We’ve got to quit being so generous.”

Fowler was unable to get seemingly anyone off the plate in the seventh, as she loaded the bases with two walks before giving up a grand slam, which cleared out a small portion of the stands as the Aztec lead increased to 6-1.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, while most people were gathering their belongings and heading to the door, Pendley was focused on getting a hit to keep her team’s chances alive. She rose to the occasion, pounding a ball over the left field wall to decrease the lead to 6-2.

Fellow freshman Alex Lavine stepped up to the plate following a Kristen Arriola hit, a Chelsea Goodacre walk and Lini Koria single, and popped the ball over center-right field, tying it 6-6 and ending the game to extra innings.

“When I was going up to bat, I was thinking, ‘This isn’t going to end with me, I’m going to keep this game going,’” Lavine said. “It was really exciting to know that I tied it up. I saw my team at the end of the baseline and I was just so excited, I can’t even think of words to describe it.”

This was one of the first games of the season the Wildcats were truly able to put together hitting, fielding, and pitching in the face of adversity.

“Sunday (after being swept by ASU) felt horrible, we were at rock bottom for our season,” Lavine said. “Coming into this series, we were thinking that there’s no place to go but up. We had a little speed bump and we’re good now.”

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