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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball walks off with win against Ducks

    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Colin Darland
    Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

    The Arizona softball team opened Pacific-10 Conference play over the weekend, hosting the Oregon schools at Hillenbrand Stadium, and the Wildcats swept the weekend in three different fashions. The most thrilling was a comeback in the bottom of the seventh to steal the weekend’s final game from the Oregon Ducks.

    “”I felt that, coming into the weekend, that this was crucial for us,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea. “”We could not stumble with these two teams.””

    This weekend saw the return of shortstop K’lee Arredondo, who had been out with a hamstring injury. In her first game back, the junior hit a three-run home run and a game-tying, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning against Oregon (10-20, 0-4 Pac-10) on Sunday afternoon. Jenae Leles hit a solo shot during the next at bat to give Arizona the 7-6 win.

    “”It was really exciting. It was fun,”” Arredondo said. “”At least we know we can come from behind at any point of the game.””

    No. 11 Arizona (31-7, 3-0) fell behind after pitching trouble in the seventh. Although junior Sarah Akamine (13-4) got the start, she only lasted two innings before being replaced by sophomore Lindsey Sisk (11-2). Sisk only pitched two-thirds of an inning before being lifted by Candrea in favor of senior hurler Jennifer Martinez (7-1).

    “”I’m so happy and honored that coach believes in me that much to put me in (the game) in tight situations and use me as the go-to pitcher,”” Martinez said.

    Martinez sent down 11 batters in a row before giving up a single in the top of the seventh. She walked Cortney Kivett before recording another out and facing Neena Bryant, who then tied the game with a three-run home run.

    It looked as though Oregon would steal a win away from the Wildcats, but a brilliant catch by freshmen Karissa Buchanan turned the momentum in favor of the Wildcats.

    Monique Fuiava hit a ball to deep right center that was sure to be gone and add yet another run for Arizona to try and make up in the bottom of the inning.

    Without regard for her body, Buchanan slammed into the outfield wall and brought the ball back.

    “”I thought it was out,”” Leles said. “”But Karissa, she’s quick and has that fight as a freshmen and that’s all you can ask from her. She got a little banged up, but she’ll be ok.””

    Added Buchanan: “”I really wanted to catch it, and nothing was going to stand in my way. I didn’t even think about the wall.””

    Buchanan ran into the wall at full speed and managed to keep the ball in her glove. After the catch, she remained on the ground for a few moments. She sustained an injury to her nose as a result of the play.

    “”I think as a team, we learned that we can play,”” Arredondo said. “”No matter what the score is, no matter if we’re behind. I think we learned a little trust with each other.””

    Arizona made use of the long ball this weekend. Racking up 11 total, Arizona used the power lurking in their lineup to their advantage.

    In their conference opener with Oregon State (16-16, 1-3), Arizona blasted out four home runs, including two by catcher Stacie Chambers. The Wildcats currently occupy the top two spots on the national home run leader board with Chambers in first with 22 long balls and Leles with 16.

    “”I never try to hit homeruns, it just happens,”” Leles said.

    The first two games of the weekend were more relaxed for Arizona. The Wildcats battled against Oregon State in a game that saw six balls leave the park. Arizona would win 12-9 on the back of Martinez, who recorded her sixth win.

    Saturday, Arizona would run-rule Oregon as Arizona dominated for most of the game. They took an early lead in a six-run second inning capped by Leles’ three-run home run.

    The lesson of the weekend for the Wildcats was to trust teammates and to learn how to play in every style of game. Candrea hopes those lessons carry over to the rest of the Pac-10 season.

    “”I think it’s good for them to go through a little bit of everything,”” he said. “”You learn more. It definitely builds character, and more importantly it builds confidence.””

    Added Leles: “”As long as we have outs, we’re still in the game.””

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