Arizona softball offense wakes up, finishes with split New Mexico State series
Arizona’s No. 17 softball team split a pair of games last night against New Mexico State, dropping the first contest 3-2 and rebounding with an 8-1 win in the second game to close out non-conference play at the New Mexico State Softball Complex in Las Cruces, N.M.
The Aggies were able to stretch their winning streak to 11 games with the victory in the first game, but fell to the Wildcats in the second as Arizona’s offense was awoken by senior Brigette Del Ponte’s grand slam home run.
“We’ve got to learn to win on the road,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “To be honest, the first game was disappointing.”
In the second game of the doubleheader, New Mexico State was first to attack with a home run by Kelsey Dodd, making the score 1-0 in favor of the Aggies in the bottom of the first. The Wildcats broke through in the top of the third after sophomore Chelsea Suitos collected a clutch single to score junior Alex Lavine and tie the game up at one.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball beat UC Santa Barbara Sunday afternoon 9-0 after 4 innings.
Suitos is currently hitting a team-leading .417 (15-36) with runners in scoring position and contributed last night with two RBI and three hits, but possesses only nine RBI on the year.
“We made some good adjustments during the second game,” Suitos said. “We refreshed our offense, and our pitching was lights-out for the most part.”
The Wildcats added to their lead later that inning when Del Ponte smacked a grand slam home run to left center, scoring sophomores Suitos and Chelsea Goodacre and freshman Lauren Young to make the score 5-1 entering the fourth.
Arizona wasn’t quite finished, and tacked on another three runs to make it 8-1 as Goodacre hit her team-leading 14th home run of the season.
Junior Shelby Babcock kept the Aggies under control and improved to 14-5. She allowed one run on six hits while striking out three and walking four in five innings pitched.
Freshman Nancy Bowling relieved and closed the door on the Aggies, striking out four of the last six batters.
During game one, Arizona struck first as freshman Mandie Perez singled home DelPonte to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.
Perez currently holds a .379 (11-29) average with RISP, the second-highest on the team.
“I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunities,” Perez said. “As a team I think we had timely hitting and really improved in the second game.”
While the Wildcats’ offense was present, Arizona failed to produce clutch hits and left nine runners on base (six in scoring position) in the first game against the Aggies.
The Aggies retaliated in the bottom of the third as Dodd dropped a single in shallow center, which scored left-fielder Amber Olive.
Arizona regained the lead in the top of the fourth when freshman Courtney Rodriguez scored from Suitos’ two-out RBI single.
New Mexico State threatened in the fifth, stranding runners on first and third. It struck a fatal blow when Emma Adams hit a two-run home run over the left field wall to lift the Aggies to a 3-2 score, which became final after Arizona was retired in order in the seventh.
Junior Estela Piñon took the loss and fell to 9-5 on the season. She allowed three runs on six hits in six innings pitched. Piñon struck out five in the first two innings but was unable to master her control and walked five batters as a result.
“We have to get better control if we want to win tough games,” Candrea said. “Hopefully we will give ourselves a chance [up north].”
Arizona resumes Pac-12 play as it heads to Oregon for a three-game series this weekend.