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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Long balls give Wildcats victory over Sun Devils on softball diamond

    For the Arizona softball team, the opening of the season series against No. 5 ASU would not disappoint for the sellout crowd of 2,794 at Hillenbrand Stadium. In a thrilling game that saw six long balls leave the park, the No. 10 Wildcats walked away the victors, 10-8, thanks in large part to the bat of senior Sam Banister.

    Arizona had the lead early the ball game, but ran into trouble late in the game. Banister’s second home run returned the lead to Arizona and closed the game for the Wildcats.

    “”I was expecting them to probably not giving me anything good to hit,”” Banister said about her second home run. “”It’s not an insult. (I thought), ‘If you want to challenge me, then I’m going to see what I can do with it and make something happen.'””

    Banister homered twice in the game, each after the Sun Devils (34-8, 4-3 Pacific 10 conference) opted to intentionally walk Stacie Chambers. Banister’s second home run in the bottom of the sixth put Arizona (33-9, 5-2 Pac-10) back on top, 10-8, after its lead fell apart in the top of the inning.

    Sarah Akamine (14-4) started the game for the Wildcats and effectively shut down the Sun Devil offense. After giving up two runs in the second, Akamine set down 10 batters in a row, striking out a game-high eight batters before running into trouble in the sixth.

    Three singles in the inning set up Jennifer Martinez (8-3) to come in to for relief.

    Martinez struggled, allowing three. ASU scored six runs total in the inning. It was the first lead of the game for the Sun Devils. Arizona quickly answered, however, as Brittany Lastrapes singled to start the inning off.

    “”Sarah really stepped up and gave us a great effort,”” said head coach Mike Candrea. “”I’m just glad we were able to come back and win it for Sarah because she threw her heart out.””

    Akamine returned to close out the game in the seventh. She did not get the win, but was credited with the save for her team. She promptly set down the last of the ASU batters to seal the win for the Wildcats.

    “”I wanted it really bad,”” Akamine said about returning to finish the game. “”It didn’t help that Katie Cochran was up first.””

    Arizona was able to shut down Cochran, ASU’s best hitter. She struck out twice and only recorded a single and scored once in the game. Arizona pitching only gave up seven hits and one home run in all.

    For the Sun Devils, Hillary Bach (19-3) gave up five homeruns, including one to Chambers, back-to-back shots by K’lee Arredondo and Jenae Leles, and the two jacks to Banister. All of Arizona’s runs were scored via the long ball.

    This is the Wildcats’ first victory against the Sun Devils in four games. After being swept in the series last year, the Wildcats came out with their game faces on.

    “”ASU is our rival – it’s always going to be a battle,”” Banister said. “”It could be the turning point in our season.””

    The victory for Arizona puts it in sole position of second place in the Pac-10 standings. The Wildcats will take on the Sun Devils again Saturday at 7 p.m.

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