Arizona softball continues to dominate
Despite heavy rain causing two games to be cancelled, the No. 10 Arizona softball team still stayed hot.
The UA went 3-0 during the Wildcat Invitational and extended its winning streak to eight games, its second-longest winning streak of the season.
Most recently, Arizona (18-1) took the field on Sunday against Indiana in a 9-1 victory in five innings for the Wildcats.
Arizona’s sixth straight mercy rule win ties a school record.
Junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre hits a home-run in the first inning of Arizona's 9-1 win against Indiana in the Wildcat Invitational at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Sunday. Arizona has won six games in a row by mercy rule, tying a school record.
Arizona’s redshirt senior starting pitcher Kenzie Fowler struggled off of the bat and had the bases loaded in her first inning. Fowler managed to yield only one run in that first inning en route to four innings pitched, three strikeouts and four hits allowed.
Luckily for Fowler, the Arizona offense quickly regained the lead on a first inning, two-run home run from junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre. The Wildcats added seven more runs on the game to defeat the Hoosiers.
“That’s what makes pitching for this team so much easier,” Fowler said. “I know that we’re going to put runners in scoring position and get runners in motion. I know we don’t have to freak out if an opposing team scores first. I know that this offense can put me back in the game.”
The surprise news of the weekend came when Arizona’s scheduled games on Saturday against Texas-Arlington and Iowa had to be cancelled due to rain. Both games were postponed several times throughout the day before finally being cancelled during the afternoon.
In all, three Saturday games were cancelled and one was postponed because of the rain.
The cancelled game against Texas-Arlington would have presented a rare competition between current Wildcat Kellie Fox and her sister, UTA head coach and former Arizona softball standout Kristie Fox.
“Unfortunately, we can’t control Mother Nature, and that’s just kind of the way it happened,” UA head coach Mike Candrea said. “I feel bad because I wanted to see Kristie’s team play against us, and I wanted Kellie and Kristie to play each other.”
With Saturday’s games cancelled, Friday was the only other chance the Wildcats had to take the field this weekend. Arizona beat Longwood 8-0 in five innings and Valparaiso 9-1 in five innings in a double-header.
Fox continued her hot start to the season by batting .429 over the weekend with two home runs and five runs batted in. For the season, Fox is leading the team in hits, home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
“I’m just going to keep going up there and taking my hacks,” Fox said. “The game is paying me back right now, but you never know what’s going to happen next.”
Including Fox, the top half of the batting order has been incredibly productive so far this season and is a reason why Arizona is off to its best start since the 2010 season. The first four hitters have contributed 70 of the team’s 171 hits, 70 of the team’s 158 runs, 18 of the team’s 28 home runs and 71 of the team’s 144 runs batted in.
That kind of production is why Arizona keeps scoring at a rate of 8.3 runs per game. The Wildcats have already scored 10 or more runs six times this season, compared to last season when the team scored more than 10 runs only nine times.
The Wildcats have used that run-scoring ability to extend their run-rule streak to six games; 13 of Arizona’s 19 games have ended prematurely due to the eight run-rule.
“You take [offense] when you can,” Candrea said. “One thing about this game: It’s a roller coaster. … You just have to keep your standards high, and the key is keeping those standards high and preparation. If you prepare every day with a big game mentality, then good things are going to happen. You let your guard down and anybody can play with you.”
Looking forward, Arizona takes on Ball State in a double-header on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Wildcats look to win both games and match their season-best 10-game winning streak.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne