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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Lackluster start for Wildcat softball during win in post season opener

    The Arizona Wildcat softball team began a run at the Women’s College World Series Friday afternoon, defeating the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 9-3.

    Fittingly, Arizona catcher Stacie Chambers, who leads the NCAA with 29 home runs, hit a solo bomb in the bottom of the third to give the Wildcats a 5-1 lead and set a new team home run record of 127.

    “”I just try to make contact,”” Chambers said. “”We just go out there and try to hit the ball hard. That is what we are supposed to do when we get in the box.””

    A new home run record may be a sweet topping to the cake, but to Arizona head coach Mike Candrea, what good is topping when you don’t have a cake?

    “”I do not think they gave a national championship on home runs,”” Candrea said. “”It is games that you win.

    “”This time of year it is great pitching, great defense and getting a timely hit,”” he added. “”That is what we have to get in the mindset to do.””

    The Wildcats (42-14, 13-7 Pacific 10 Conference) got off to a rocky start, falling behind 1-0 after the Skyhawks (38-23) punched in a run during the first inning. Arizona responded in the bottom of the second when Chambers scored from second base off designated player Lini Koria’s double. Sophomore second baseman Victoria Kemp, who has come on strong after two home runs against ASU on April 29, scored Koria to give Arizona the 2-1 lead.

    After two more scores in the second via a double by left fielder Brittany Lastrapes, Chambers hit the historic homer in the third and center fielder Lauren Schutzler scored senior first baseman Sam Banister and Kemp on a double to give Arizona a 7-1 lead going into the fourth inning.

    But the Skyhawks wouldn’t fold and scored two more runs in the fourth after Candrea pulled starting pitcher Sarah Akamine (20-6) for redshirt senior Jennifer Martinez (10-4), who had her own opinion on why the win wasn’t the most pleasing way to start regional play.

    “”I was one of the players who was pressing today,”” said Martinez, after pitching in her first NCAA post season. “”I was definitely one of the tight players today. I need to go out tomorrow and be a lot more relaxed.””

    Padding their lead, the Wildcats scored twice in the fifth inning.

    Senior Jill Malina – who was a surprise start in right field instead of freshman Karissa Buchanan – earned her first post season RBI with a pop-up that plated Koria from third. Koria was the only freshman left in Candrea’s post season lineup and went three for three at the plate.

    Then, Lastrapes singled to score Schutzler to put the Wildcats up 9-3. Martinez shut out the Skyhawks in the sixth inning before Akamine returned in the seventh to solidify Arizona’s win.

    “”At this time of the year a win is a win,”” Candrea said. “”No matter how you play as long as you end up on the right side of the score, you have to be happy, move forward and not think that much about it.””

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