Softball opens tournament with a win
Another strong offensive performance carried the No. 24 Arizona softball team to its fourth straight win to open the Hillenbrand Invitational.
The Wildcats (4-0) defeated the Grand Canyon Antelopes (2-4) 5-0 on Thursday night.
Junior shortstop Kellie Fox and junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre led the Wildcats. The duo combined to go 3-5 with one home run and four runs batted in.
“[The ball] just looked kind of like a beach ball out there,” Goodacre said. “Some days it just looks really good, and that was one of them today.”
Redshirt junior shortstop Kellie Fox hits a home run during Arizona's 5-0 win over Grand Canyon University at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Thursday.
All five Arizona runs against Grand Canyon came in the first three innings, continuing the season-long trend of early offense.
In the first four games of the season, the Wildcats have scored 35 of their 40 runs in the first three innings of each game. That kind of early offense has Arizona head coach Mike Candrea excited about his team’s ability to put runs on the scoreboard in a hurry.
“We always talk about being the aggressor and trying to put pressure on the opposing teams early in the game,” Candrea said. “That’s a good sign but I would like to have consistent pressure.”
In addition to an upstart offense, the Wildcats have had reliable performances from all five pitchers on the staff.
Freshman pitcher Michelle Floyd started and pitched Thursday in her first game of her Arizona career. Floyd went three innings, and only two base runners were allowed all game.
“It was really exciting,” Floyd said. “We’ve been practicing since summer so it was nice to finally come in to pitch.”
As a team, the Wildcats have allowed only 10 hits all season and Arizona pitching coach Alicia Hollowell said the staff’s three seniors are a big reason why.
“I think they’ve done a great job,” Hollowell said. “It’s nice to have some senior leadership from them and they’ve all been there and been in the tough situations. To have the mental maturity of a senior is what’s really leading our staff and helping out our underclassmen.”
The Hillenbrand Invitational continues with four more games today. The Wildcats take on the New Mexico Lobos at 4 p.m. in the second-to-last game of the day. The game can be viewed in person at Hillenbrand Stadium or via livestream on pac-12.com.
New Mexico (1-4) last played Feb. 8 in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe and is coming off a 10-0 loss against Portland State. The Lobos have been outscored 47-13 in their first five games of the 2014 season.
The Wildcats will look to maintain the consistency they’ve shown throughout the beginning of the season.
“I haven’t seen [New Mexico] since last year so I don’t really know what to expect,” Candrea said, “but they will come ready to play and we need to come ready to play, too.”
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555