Softball mercies Boise State to earn sweep
Wildcats set home run record in victories
Arizona softball hit a doubleheader school record nine home runs Saturday night, including four by freshman third baseman Lauren Young.
The No. 20 Wildcats (18-5) beat Boise State (9-13) 14-4 and 10-2 on Saturday, while blasting nine homers in a couple of five-inning, mercy rule wins. The record was eight, by the 2001 Wildcats against Fresno State on Apr. 18.
Young hit two three-run round trippers in the 14-4 win to start the double header. Then in the nightcap, she hit a two-run homer and a solo shot in the fourth to give UA the eight-run lead to run rule the Broncos again.
“I think I was more focused at the plate,” Young said. “I had a plan up there and when I saw my pitch, I hit it.”
In five innings of work in the second game, freshman pitcher Nancy Bowling (3-1) gave up four hits, two earned runs, two walks and struck out a career high eight; her previous high was five. Bowling gave up two runs in the first but didn’t have trouble after that.
“It was good,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “There is some rough spots, giving up runs early in the game; we can’t afford to walk up to the plate each time down two runs, but Nancy really settled down and threw really well, which I’ve been waiting for since she’s been here, which is really nice to see and we swung the bats, we swung (laughs) the bats extremely well [Saturday] night.”
Arizona hit nine home runs on Saturday and 12 in the series. They also beat Boise State 9-5 on Thursday, sweeping the three-game series.
“We played really, really great [Saturday],” Young said. “We came out with our bats ready to go and I feel like we did good this weekend.”
In the second game, UA hit six home runs, including three in the five-run fourth. Young had nine RBI on Saturday and sophomore catcher Chelsea Goodacre five. Going into Saturday, Young had three dingers in her UA career, now she is tied with Goodacre for the team lead, with seven.
Candrea wasn’t sure where Young’s day ranked in UA history, but said her performance was “pretty damn good.”
Arizona won the de facto home run derby on Saturday, smacking nine, while the Broncos hit four, three in the first game and one in the nightcap.
In the second game, junior pitcher/designated player Estela Piñon, sophomore first baseman/outfielder Hallie Wilson and Goodacre hit two-run home runs.
Goodacre hit two home runs in the nightcap, also hitting a solo shot.
In the first game, freshman second baseman/outfielder Mandie Perez hit a three run home run.
UA scored nine runs in the second inning as the Wildcats had 13 at bats. Every Arizona batter reached base in the first game and they had 12 hits.
Piñon (6-2) started the second game and gave up eight hits and four runs and had five strikeouts.
This week the UA goes to the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., in the last action before Pac-12 play starts.
The Wildcats are undefeated at Hillenbrand Stadium, but are just 5-5 in tournaments away from home and haven’t beaten a ranked foe this season.
“I think if we carry on what we did this weekend and have a plan, I think we would be up there with all the rest of the teams,” Young said. “I think we can do it.”
In its tournament in Palm Springs, Calif., Arizona only scored six runs in five games. The Wildcats have a streak of scoring eight or more runs five games in a row.
“It was definitely a good weekend,” Candrea said. “It’s good to see that the bottom of the order started producing for us a little bit. It’s a good place for us going into Fullerton because the competition will step up a little bit.”
On March 14, Arizona will play Virginia Tech at 11 a.m., then Notre Dame, both of which received votes in the poll. Last season, the UA eliminated Notre Dame from postseason play in the regional round.
On March 15, the Wildcats play Penn State at 12:30 p.m., then No. 14 Michigan. On March 16 they close out the tournament with No. 2 Oklahoma, which beat UA 5-0 a few weeks ago, at 3 p.m.
Live audio will be available on UA’s USTREAM channel.