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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Homers for club baseball

Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona club baseball’s catcher Rittner Hufford and outfielder Ryan Soderquist are both big country music fans, but, instead of attending Country Thunder, they supply their own thunder with the bat.

Hufford leads the National Club Baseball Association in home runs with 10, but, earlier this month, Soderquist provided him with some company in the home-run standings.

Going into a three-game series against NAU with three home runs, Soderquist blasted five during the series leaving him with eight on the season.

“”He was hitting the ball like a beach ball,”” said Hufford, a senior in the College of Sciences. “”They couldn’t pitch to him. He’d wait for a good pitch and take it deep.””

Hufford also homered during the three-game series, but it was Soderquist who stole the show.

“”They were going crazy,”” said Soderquist, a senior in the Eller College of Management, of his teammates. “”After a while (the atmosphere) was ridiculous.””

The team plays against ASU this weekend and can clinch the Southern Pacific East Conference by winning two of three games. With a conference title, they will advance to the Southern Pacific Regionals and will have the opportunity to advance to nationals. They will look to improve upon last year’s second-place showing.

Hufford and Soderquist are focused on helping the team win, and one way to do so is to keep going deep.

The two have a friendly wager between them, and the ‘steaks’ couldn’t be any higher.

“”I told (Ryan) I’d have to hit three or four home runs against ASU just to separate us a little more,”” Hufford said. “”I’m going to have to get a loan to pay for all these dinners. We’re encouraging each other to perform at the next level.””

Soderquist steals the show

Against NAU, Soderquist hit two grand slams, two two-run homers, a three-run homer and brought in 21 RBIs. Soderquist only came close to that type of performance once before in high school when he hit three home runs in two games.

His biggest impact against NAU came in the second game of the series with Arizona trailing 13-3 early to a team to which Arizona has never lost.

“”Everyone was quiet and tense,”” Soderquist said. “”Then I came up, and the bases were loaded. I hit a home run, and I went crazy. It pumped me up so much.””

Soderquist went on to hit a three-run shot and another grand slam that “”sealed the deal.”” He also notched 13 RBIs. Arizona won 29-13.

“”It was almost surreal,”” Soderquist said. “”Honestly, I felt like I could (hit a home run every time I stepped to the plate). If the pitch was in there, I was going to hit it hard, and they just kept going out. I couldn’t believe it.””

Hufford goes yard

In March, Hufford hit two home runs against ASU on consecutive days of double-headers.

One meant a little more.

In the second inning of Saturday’s double-header, Hufford was at bat with a man on first. After taking a ball, Hufford was hit in the back by an ASU catcher who was attempting to make a play on the runner at first. Many of Hufford’s teammates felt the play of the ASU catcher was deliberate, but Hufford felt otherwise, saying it was “”part of the game.””

Regardless of intent, Hufford’s father Mark, who regularly attends his son’s games, could see the look in his son’s eye.

“”I knew he was mad,”” he said.

After shaking off the hit, Hufford stepped up to the plate and zoned in for the pitch.

“”I swung a little bit harder,”” Rittner Hufford said. “”(I had) a little adrenaline going. (When I hit the ball) it felt really good.””

“”I knew it was gone,”” Mark Hufford added. “”He hits bombs.””

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