Arizona softball game notes: Big weekend powers Wildcats
Arizona freshman infielder Mo Mercado (11) high-fives Head Coach Mike Candrea after hitting a two-run home run in the last inning of Arizona’s 13-5 win against LSU in game seven of the NCAA Tucson Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona had three home runs and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals in Lafayette, La.
After losing game one of Sunday’s doubleheader in frustrating fashion, the Arizona softball team defeated the LSU Tigers 13-5 in the second game of the doubleheader. The Wildcats (44-14) went 3-1 over the NCAA Tucson Regional and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals.
“This is what you work for, live for and to celebrate on your home field is a nice feeling,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “It took a lot of fight and a lot of guts because LSU is one of those teams that will just keep coming back at you.”
The Wildcats used a big weekend from junior utility player and leadoff batter Hallie Wilson to springboard the team through several rough patches. The biggest of which came during Sunday’s 5-1 defeat in the first matchup against LSU.
Arizona scored merely one run in that game and the one of the most prolific offensives in the nation struggled to collect hits against LSU pitcher Baylee Corbello, whom Arizona faced three times this weekend.
Despite collecting just three hits against Corbello in the first game Sunday, Wilson came out firing in the second game. Her leadoff home run changed the atmosphere around Rita Hillenbrand Stadium and led to the mercy ruled 13-5 victory over the Tigers in five innings.
“With two strikes on me I was just looking for a pitch to hit somewhere,” Wilson said. “[LSU starting pitcher Kelsee Selman] gave me that down and out pitch which I really like and I swung as hard as I could.”
Arizona is off until Friday when they travel to Louisiana to take on the sixth seeded Louisiana- Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at 6 p.m. MST in the first game of the best of three NCAA Super Regionals. The game can be viewed on ESPNU.
According to Candrea, Wilson was the unquestioned MVP of the weekend for the Wildcats. Over four games this weekend Wilson had a batting average of .636, scored six runs, hit three home runs and accumulated nine RBIs.
“Hallie is a pretty special player… she is able to slow the game down, never gets too excited but always has a really good approach at the plate.” Candrea said. “On a day-to-day basis, if you watch her prepare… she’s always got a purpose.”
For the year, Wilson batted leadoff in all 58 games Arizona has played and is second on the team with a .414 batting average and third with 16 home runs.
In essence, Wilson is everything a leadoff hitter should be and much, much more.
Babcock Steps Up
Arizona senior pitcher Shelby Babcock made 19 regular season appearances, starting only seven of those games. However, a season-ending injury to redshirt senior Kenzie Fowler has forced Babcock back into a prominent role and she delivered when it mattered most this weekend.
In the deciding game of the NCAA Tucson Regional on Sunday against LSU, Babcock started and never took her foot off the petal.
She threw a complete five innings and struck out five batters in the 13-5 Arizona victory. By doing so, Babcock was the only other Arizona pitcher besides staff ace Estela Piñon to record a victory this weekend.
“When you get on the mound, you have a game on the line,” Babcock said. “Today getting on the mound… I wasn’t going to walk off that field without a win.”
Going forward, the resurgence of Babcock would really help Candrea and his players advance to the 2014 NCAA Women’s College World Series.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555