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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Softball takes one of two

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

Arizona softball’s meeting with the No. 5 Missouri Tigers was sure to have a postseason feel. Ranked No. 2 in the nation, Arizona was poised to take advantage of an early season test in a three-game home stand and its opening weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The Wildcats (7-1) split the weekend against the Tigers (3-2) in a double header on Sunday after bad weather forced the cancellation of Saturday’s games. Right after the starting lineups for each team were announced, the skies opened up and an onslaught of rain plagued Hillenbrand for more than an hour before the games were called.

After winning the first game 5-0 over Mizzou Sunday, Arizona’s pitching and defense struggled early in the second game.

“”I think today we came out today and played the first game well,”” said head coach Mike Candrea. “”The second game got a little out of hand. We gave up 10 runs with two outs, basically. All three innings, we had two outs. The game got a little quick on us defensively.””

Senior pitcher Sarah Akamine was hit up for five runs in the first inning after a few defensive mishaps by the Wildcat infielders. A wild pitch by Akamine allowed Mizzou outfielder Rhea Taylor to reach first base, beginning the Tigers’ scoring run with two outs in the inning.

Arizona answered with two runs off of Stacie Chambers’ home run, but was undone by the five additional Mizzou runs that crossed the plate during the second and third innings.

Pitcher Ashley Ralston-Alvarez came in relief and kept the Tiger batters off the base path.

Facing a run-ruling loss, the Wildcats responded in the fifth inning. Freshman Brigette Del Ponte knocked out her first home run of the season before fellow freshman Becca Tikey was hit in the head, sending her to first base. A double by left fielder Brittany Lastrapes set up junior Lauren Schutzler to drive in a run off a sacrifice fly.

Arizona made the score 10-5 before its offense died out.

In hopes of staging a comeback, Candrea brought in the first game’s winning pitcher, Kenzie Fowler, to close out the game. However, no runs crossed the plate for either team the rest of the game.

“”I was proud of the way they came back. I really felt that there was a chance of us coming back and winning that game,”” Candrea said. “”That’s why I brought Kenzie in the last inning to shut it down.””

The opening game for the Wildcats was a much different story.

Although their debut was delayed a day, freshmen Fowler and Baillie Kirker shined.

Fowler threw 118 pitches in Arizona’s 5-0 win in the first game. She struck out nine Tiger batters and only allowed two hits in a shutout seven innings.

“”Our first game was real good,”” Fowler said after the final game on Sunday. “”We kinda lost it in the second game, but I mean, we came out firing. We competed with them pitch by pitch, and that was a great game for us. Both the games were good to get under our belts.””

Kirker drove in all five of Arizona’s runs off of two home runs in the game — a three-run blast to right field in the third inning and a two-run homer to left field in the fourth.

“”I came out here fired up and ready to go. I picked the pitches to hit, and I did my job,”” Kirker said. “”I think we did a great job recovering, you know, taking the day off and coming back.””

The Wildcats have the possibility to move into the top spot in the nation after current No. 1 Washington lost to unranked Utah State on Friday.

Regardless of the poll standings, Candrea said a weekend against a top opponent gives him a good gauge of where his team is at this early stage.

The Wildcats will face even more ranked opponents next week when they travel to Cathedral City, Calif. Current No. 19 Fresno State and No. 25 Baylor will await the Wildcats. Along with this weekend, Candrea will use these early tests to determine the strength and depth of his team.

“”I think it’s early in the season, and you learn as much from games like that than beating a poor team 20-0,”” Candrea said.


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