Arizona softball wins first Pac-12 road series
The No. 9 Arizona softball team won its first Pac-12 Conference road series as the Wildcats took two out of three from California this weekend in Berkeley, Calif.
In its first two conference road series against ASU and UCLA, Arizona (34-9, 9-6 Pac-12) combined to score just 12 runs in all six games. They won just one of those six games.
“I think it’s no secret we’ve been struggling on the road,” Arizona head softball coach Mike Candrea said.
However, this weekend in their three game series against the Golden Bears (21-17, 4-6) the Wildcats found success at the plate and scored 23 runs.
After defeating California 15-5 on Friday, the UA slipped and lost to Cal 9-1 on Saturday but fought back for a 7-2 Sunday victory that secured its first Pac-12 road series win.
“I felt going into this series we were certainly good enough to win all three,” Candrea said. “We let one go on Saturday but we came back to win the series. If we hadn’t won [Sunday] I think it would have been detrimental going forward.”
Katiyana Mauga continued her success from last weekend and seems to have started to find her stride. Friday the freshman right fielder went 3-5 and had three RBIs.
“When I recruited her one thing I always noticed is she was always clutch,” Candrea said of Mauga. “We have a lot of girls on this team who bring a good approach to the plate and I think it represents what kind of team we are.”
The one blemish on the Wildcats’ weekend was Saturday’s 9-1 loss in six-innings.
Arizona has 20 run-rule victories. Saturday was their first run-rule loss of the season.
Saturday’s game got out of hand fast for the Wildcats as starting pitcher senior Kenzie Fowler gave up five earned runs and recorded just one out before being pulled for Estela Piñon. California went on to score seven runs in the first inning.
On Saturday Fowler, Piñon and later senior Shelby Babcock combined for seven walks. As for the entire weekend, the Arizona pitchers walked a combined 21 California batters.
Following Sunday’s win Candrea wasn’t too concerned about the walks because of how the team has continued to compete through the adversity, but he does believe it needs to be fixed.
After getting run-ruled Arizona showed that competitive nature as they had 10 hits on Sunday and scored seven runs. The Wildcats put the game away in the sixth inning with a four run top-half inning.
Piñon was back in the circle Sunday and went the distance. The senior pitched all seven innings and gave up the two earned runs on three hits. She did, however, walk five batters in the process.
Arizona has a week off but returns home on April 23 to play a two-game midweek non-conference series against New Mexico State (26-16, 8-1 WAC).
“We’re a real good team,” Candrea said. “We can beat anyone in the country and lose to anyone but the encouraging thing is we still have a lot of room for improvement. And it starts in the circle.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella