Arizona Wildcats softball sweeps UC Santa Barbara
The No. 19 Arizona softball team swept UC Santa Barbara this weekend in a two-game series at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Wildcats had a season-high 15 hits, overpowering the Gauchos’ rotation to take Saturday’s game, 12-2 and went on to win Sunday’s contest, 9-0 in five innings.
“It was a good weekend,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “We swung the bats well, played good defense, and got good pitching. We are working on consistency and limiting our mistakes.”
Sunday’s game began quietly, as neither team broke through during the first two innings of play. The Wildcats struck in the bottom of the third when junior Kelsey Rodriguez hit an RBI single to score freshman Gabbie Sandstedt and send sophomore Chelsea Suitos to third. Then, sophomore Chelsea Goodacre smacked a single to right center field to score Suitos and Rodriguez, making the score 3-0.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball beat UC Santa Barbara Sunday afternoon 9-0 after 4 innings.
Freshman Mandie Perez contributed with four RBI as she launched a grand-slam home run to right field, making the score 7-0.
Arizona tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth after Goodacre drove in sophomore Hallie Wilson on a fielder’s choice and senior Brigette Del Ponte followed by a sac-fly to score Suitos.
Junior Shelby Babcock impressed in the circle, improving to 13-5, allowing three hits and striking out three in four innings pitched. Freshman Nancy Bowling relieved, striking out two in one inning of work.
“[After struggling to maintain control for the past few games] I now feel like I’m back to my normal self,” Babcock said. “To have my team behind me was really awesome. This weekend, we came together really well. We had the runs, we made our plays, and we had solid pitching.”
In Saturday’s action, after quickly finding themselves down 1-0 to Santa Barbara going into the bottom of the first, the Wildcats responded with five runs of their own, breaking open the game.
Six Arizona players recorded multiple hits and led the offensive onslaught that resulted in a mercy rule victory for the UA. Freshman Lauren Young had a standout performance, recording three hits and seven RBI via two three-run home runs and an RBI single.
Del Ponte, junior Estela Piñon, and sophomores Wilson, Suitos and Goodacre each recorded two hits on the night.
“I felt really great leading the team,” Young said. “Last weekend, I didn’t have such a great performance, but I’m happy that I was able to bounce back and produce.”
The Gauchos retaliated in the top of the second to provide their only other run of the night. Arizona never looked back after that, putting up another run in bottom of the second when Goodacre doubled in Suitos to make the score 6-2.
The Wildcats went on to tally six more runs in the last three innings of play, as the offense continued to contribute. Young forced the mercy win and hit her second three-run home run of the night to lift the Wildcats to the 12-2 win.
Piñon improved to 9-4 with the win and allowed two runs on six hits and a walk, striking out two.
“We’ve got to continue to have good at-bats, continue to have good pitching, play good defense and be smart on the bases,” Candrea said. “Physical mistakes are going to happen, but mental mistakes are something you prepare for and they shouldn’t happen at this point in the year.”