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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball survives clash with ASU

    Sheldon Smith/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA Softball plays ASU. Game cancelled due to rain.
    Sheldon Smith
    Sheldon Smith/ Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball plays ASU. Game cancelled due to rain.

    Make it rain. Make it rain, indeed.

    The No. 10 Arizona softball team rained balls over the outfield wall against No. 5 ASU on Friday and won a thrilling 10-8 game, then started off Saturday’s contest with two homers before rain forced the game to be called in the bottom of the third inning with the score locked at two apiece.

    “”I was just so pleased with the way we came out,”” said head coach Mike Candrea. “”We finally understand how we have to play the game and how we have to prepare.””

    Sam Banister stole the show for the Wildcats (33-9, 5-2 Pacific 10 Conference), punching in six RBIs via two three-run homers. One of those home runs came after ASU rallied for six runs in the top of the sixth inning, turning a 2-7 deficit into an 8-7 lead.

    After watching ASU give up the five-run lead, a stunned standing-room-only crowd came alive when Brittany Lastrapes advanced to third after a single and a wild pitch. Then, ASU pitcher Hillary Bach intentionally walked NCAA-leading home run hitter Stacie Chambers, but that tactic didn’t matter – Banister drilled her second home run to left field, giving Arizona the 10-8 lead it kept.

    “”Honestly, I was looking for an outside pitch to hit the other way,”” Banister said of her game-saving homer. “”I already hit a home run on the inside pitch. I can’t believe they gave me the same pitch again.””

    Five home runs throughout the night gave Arizona enough firepower to defeat an ASU team that had been subdued by pitcher Sarah Akamine (14-4). Through 6 1/3 innings, Akamine gave up five hits and four earned runs while striking out eight batters.

    More importantly, the Wildcats’ defense kept NCAA’s leading hitter Kaitlin Cochran without runners in scoring position and then shut down Cochran herself.

    Jennifer Martinez (8-3) replaced Akamine in the sixth inning and struggled, but Akamine came back in the seventh to give Martinez the ‘W’ and herself a save.

    “”I was a little disappointed (at being taken out),”” Akamine said. “”I wanted to finish the game, but it’s a hit-or-miss type of thing.””

    Arizona opened the first inning with two scores courtesy of a Chambers home run, her 24th of the season.

    The Sun Devils put Akamine in a jam at the top of the second and scored two runs, but after a brief chat with pitching coach Teresa Wilson, Arizona got out of the inning with the game tied.

    “”I think she was frustrated with the strike zone,”” Wilson said. “”She was throwing what she felt were some quality pitches and missing by a tiny bit. I just told her she didn’t need to be quite that fine.””

    Whereas Akamine was stone-faced in her demeanor, ASU’s Bach would habitually give a nod and bright smile to her catcher after each pitch, but that smile faded as the game wore on.

    Banister’s first home run gave the Wildcats a 5-2 lead in the third, and two consecutive solo bombs by K’Lee Arredondo and Jenae Leles during the fourth gave them a 7-2 lead before ASU’s rally.

    To begin Saturday’s game, Lastrapes and Arredondo hit solo home runs in each of the Wildcats’ first two at-bats, but ASU struck back in the second frame.

    Christina Zambrana hit a two-run home run to tie the game. After ASU went scoreless in the top of the third inning, Leles was walked and Chambers had a 3-2 count before the drizzle became a downpour.

    Arizona’s entire roster helped to pull a tarp over the infield, drawing a cheer from the crowd, but after the rain ceased, the officials decided to postpone the remaining innings anyway. That game could possibly continue on April 29 – prior to the scheduled 7 p.m. clash in Tempe – but there has yet to be a final decision made.

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