Arizona softball smashes UTEP in five innings
The No. 10 Arizona softball team opened its seven-game home stand by defeating the UTEP Miners 11-1 in five innings on Tuesday night at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
The Wildcats (14-1) got off to yet another hot start by scoring six of their 11 runs in the first inning and all 11 runs in the first three innings of the game.
Leading the Arizona offensive charge were freshman third baseman Katiyana Mauga and junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre. The duo combined for three hits, one home run and six RBIs.
Coming in to the game with two home runs and seven runs batted in for the season, Mauga had the best game of her young Arizona career by hitting a second inning grand-slam and driving in four runs.
Senior Shelby Babcock pitched three innings, allowing one run, one hit and striking out three, in Arizona's 11-1 victory over UTEP on Tuesday night at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
“I’m just relaxed up at the plate, waiting for my pitch and hoping I get that one pitch and do the same thing I did [Tuesday],” Mauga said. “Hopefully it just keeps rolling. … I just hope to get on base. Home runs are just a cherry on the ice cream.”
It was the third straight game in which Mauga hit eighth in the batting order, after hitting fifth for the first 12 games of the 2014 season. In her three games in the eighth spot, Mauga is hitting .375 with one home run, five runs batted in and two walks.
According to Arizona head coach Mike Candrea, the move down in the batting order had been under consideration for a while.
The ongoing theme of dominant pitching and offense continued against the Miners as UTEP had no answers for the Arizona’s staff.
The lone Miner run came when UTEP senior pitcher/infielder Colleen Hohman hit a home run in the second inning. Hohman was one of two Miners to reach base against the pitching effort from Arizona senior pitchers Shelby Babcock (4-0) and Estela Piñon.
Babcock and Piñon combined to allow one hit and walk one and strike out seven over their five innings of work.
On the year, the Wildcats have allowed nine runs in 15 games or .6 runs allowed per game.
Candrea said he’s been encouraged by the progress of the pitching staff and their performance so far in the season. All five Arizona pitchers have ERAs under one and have pitched at least 14 innings of work.
“They’re throwing very well right now, and that’s the way the game needs to be played,” Candrea said. “Right now we’re getting good offense, playing good defense and getting good pitching.”
The Wildcats take on UTEP again today at 3 p.m. at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. The Miners had their five-game win streak ended Tuesday.
For Arizona, players and coaches said they want to keep their momentum going come tonight’s game.
“We’re going to come out with the exact same thought process and go out and attack as if (Tuesday) never happened,” Goodacre said.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555