Mercy killings: Arizona softball sweeps Southern Mississippi
Arizona softball finished its three-game sweep of Southern Mississippi on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 12-0 five-inning win.
The 12-run victory by the Wildcats concluded their first series of the season.
Arizona (3-0) opened its 2014 season by outscoring the Golden Eagles (0-3) by 33 runs in all three games combined. The Wildcats run-ruled Southern Mississippi in the three games and gave up just four hits as well.
“First weekend we had good energy,” said head coach Mike Candrea after Sunday’s win. “Each weekend is kind of a test, and you either pass or fail the test, and go back to the drawing board.”
Freshman infielder Mo Mercado hits the ball during Arizona Softball's 14-2 win against Southern Mississippi at the Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Sunday, Candrea received a strong performance in the circle by starting Arizona pitcher Estela Piñon. The senior went three innings and gave up zero hits while striking out seven in the process.
Piñon was relieved to start the fourth inning by Friday’s starter, senior Kenzie Fowler.
Candrea said he brought in Fowler to get her used to relieving, as he believes that could be a valuable role for her later in the season. Fowler pitched four innings on Friday and two on Sunday.
“One thing I like about this team right now is we have a lot of options,” Candrea said. “We have a lot of kids that can come in and help in different roles, and the sooner we can establish those and get them to understand what they may be called upon to do in the game will be huge for us. “
The Wildcats had a strong team effort at the plate Sunday afternoon, getting their 12 runs on 11 hits. Freshman second baseman Mo Mercado led the way by driving in five runs on three hits.
“I felt pretty comfortable today,” Mercado said. “I had a pretty slow start yesterday and the day before, so today I tried a different approach with a real relaxed mindset and saw the ball well.”
Mercado only had one hit in the first two games.
“The big thing about hitting is that it’s a game of numbers,” Candrea said. “You’re going to go through some ups and downs. It’s about controlling what you can. [Mercado] is the type of kid that will continue to keep a good mindset.”
In the first and fourth innings of Sunday’s game, Arizona was held scoreless. They were the only two innings this weekend where it was unable to get at least one runner across the plate.
In the circle, Piñon’s two walks in the first inning were the only Southern Mississippi runners to reach base Sunday. In the first two games, 13 Golden Eagle batters reached base and two scored.
“Right now it’s just trying to feel what we have and what their best roles will be,” Candrea said. “It could be changing from weekend to weekend, but as the season goes on I’m sure we’ll get a little more established.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella