Wildcats softball finds formidable foe in Boise State
In the first ever match up between the two, the No. 16 Arizona Softball team and the Boise State Broncos battled in a close game, but the Wildcats won 9-5 and retained their undefeated home record.
A colorful scoreboard told the story Thursday night, as the fans at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium were entertained with an offensive spectacle before dominant pitching for both teams silenced the attacks.
The Wildcats’ offense was led by senior Brigette Del Ponte, sophomores Hallie Wilson and Chelsea Goodacre, and freshman Lauren Young. Wilson, Goodacre, and Young each had home runs in the game, which provided the offensive momentum head coach Mike Candrea was looking for.
“I was pleased with the way they swung the bats,” Candrea said.
Del Ponte was the first Wildcat to strike as her RBI single tied up the game at one in the bottom of the first. Wilson, Goodacre, and Young each had two hits and a walk.
“The production offensively was nice,” Candrea said. “It was nice to see Lauren Young step up. I saw a lot of good things from [batters] 1-7. It’s a work in progress, and the good part about it is that they are working- they are trying to get better.”
The Broncos however, did not go quietly. Boise State took the lead three times in the game- once in the first, again in the second, and another time in the third. In the first inning, the Broncos took a 1-0 lead after a defensive error by shortstop Del Ponte, allowed Boise State to strike first.
After losing the lead in the bottom of the first, the Broncos responded, putting up a quick run with an RBI single to center to make the score 2-1 going into the top of the second.
With the Cats down 2-1, Wilson launched her first home run of the season over the right field fence to lift Arizona to a 3-2 lead in the second. The score stayed at 3-2 until the top of the third when Boise State’s shortstop responded with a three-run shot to give the Broncos a 5-3 lead.
Arizona’s offense wasn’t finished however, and in the bottom of the third, Goodacre hit a two-run blast to right field to tie the game back up at 5-5.
“I felt really good about our game,” Goodacre said. “We kept fighting back and we weren’t going to let them beat us. They put the pressure on us- they scored first and didn’t back down, and I think that is what really lifted us and gave us our momentum. It feels amazing to be undefeated at home.”
Young capped off the third inning with her third homerun of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Cats a 7-5 lead going into the fourth.
Junior pitcher Shelby Babcock silenced the Bronco’s offense in the fourth inning after struggling a bit to begin the game. Babcock pitched a complete game and improved to 9-2 on the year. She allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits while walking three and striking out four.
In the bottom of the sixth, Arizona struck with the final blow, acquiring a run on a throwing error and another on an RBI single by sophomore Chelsea Suitos to make the final 9-5.
“I felt like I did pretty well at third and at the plate,” Young said. “I definitely made improvements today. We were able to support her [Babcock] with our defense and pick her up with our bats.”