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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball dominates offensively in five wins at USF Wilson

    Perhaps its defense and pitching are inexperienced and bipolar at times, but the No. 12 Arizona softball team didn’t use that as an excuse this weekend, pulling out five victories at the University of South Florida Wilson Tournament in Tampa, Fla.

    Senior Jenae Leles produced three hits and four RBI to jump-start her team in the opening Friday game against Marshall.

    “”Definitely, I wanted to be one of the leaders,”” she said. “”I know that a couple of the upperclassmen had a great weekend. We wanted to set the tone for the team and get us on a positive roll for the rest of this season.””

    After struggling with consistency last weekend, the Wildcats came out swinging in the beginning of the games this weekend. Arizona scored four runs in each of the first two innings, and after the Thundering Herd cut an 8-0 deficit in half during the bottom of the second inning, the Wildcats added two more runs in the third.

    Neither team scored again and Arizona pulled out the 10-4 win behind pitcher Sarah Akamine.

    In Friday’s nightcap, pitcher Lindsey Sisk (3-2) got her first win of the year in a 7-2 defeat of the host USF Bulls. After going to extra innings with a 2-2 tie, Laine Roth scored on a Lauren Schutzler single. After a Brittany Lastrapes double and a Leles walk, right fielder Sam Banister hit a grand slam to put the Wildcats up by five, and the Bulls failed to score again.

    Sisk gave up three earned runs in the first inning against the Fighting Illini on Saturday but remained in the game for seven innings to lead the Wildcats to a 7-4 victory.

    Down by three, Arizona answered in the fourth by scoring three more runs to tie it up, but Illinois scored another run to take a 4-3 lead.

    But in the sixth inning, catcher Stacie Chambers hit a solo home run, and one out later, Roth did the same to give Arizona command. Chambers finished the weekend with 10 total RBI to help the deadly Arizona offense put up 40 runs in five games.

    And with the defense still trying to find itself, Arizona needed every one of those runs.

    “”Our offense definitely has to step it up a lot,”” Chambers said. “”(The pitchers) had a couple innings where they were kind of struggling, but they pulled it out and they have a good defense behind them so that helps.””

    “”We have a good defense, too,”” she added. “”We wouldn’t be able to have offense if we didn’t have defense.””

    Saturday’s nightcap was another competitive exchange with the USF Bulls. Arizona made the first blow in the fourth inning, when Chambers and Victoria Kemp scored on freshman Kristen Arriola’s hit. The Bulls answered at the bottom of the fourth, tying the game at two apiece.

    Chambers ,again, hit a clutch shot in the fifth inning to take a one-run lead that the Wildcats would keep. After scoring three more in the final inning, widening the margin to 6-2, Akamine found herself in a jam. After allowing two runs, she held strong by snatching a grounder to get the final out in the 6-4 win.

    Against the Hofstra Pride on Sunday, Arizona simply unloaded.

    With Sisk in the circle, Arizona scored four runs in the first inning, one each in the second and third innings and then blasted the Pride with another four in the fourth inning. Due to the run-limit rule, the game was called after the fifth inning and the Wildcats won 10-0.

    Overall, the Wildcats produced enough offense to offset the larger defensive learning curves.

    “”I think we’re making some steps in the right direction,”” head coach Mike Candrea said. “”We’re growing. (In the circle), there were much better performances; offensively, some better at bats.

    “”I was really proud of the way they played even when we were behind,”” Candrea added. “”They didn’t hit the panic button or anything, they just kept playing hard.””

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