Softball: Super smash sisters on record setting pace
Chicks dig the long ball.
For the Arizona softball team, that expression has summarized its offensive performance this season.
The team’s most recent game action resulted in 13 home runs over three games against Utah. Arizona head coach Mike Candrea knows how good the team’s offense is and that it could go down in the record books.
The Wildcats have an NCAA-leading 92 home runs on the season and still have six more games to increase those numbers. There is a very real chance this team could go down as one of the top-five home run teams in program history.
Team members run to homeplate to celebrate junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre's (77) homerun during Arizona's 14-1 win against the Oregon State on Monday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Goodacre leads the team in home runs.
Candrea said some home runs this season were among the farthest he’s seen in his 29 years at Arizona. Specifically, he was wowed by a home run junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre hit against Utah on April 25.
“It went out in the nighttime so I didn’t get a chance to see it land,” Candrea said. “I’ve been around this place for 29 years and I’ve seen a lot of balls hit. In a game situation, that was by far the longest ball that I’ve seen.”
The Ina E. Gittings Building is located about 25 feet behind the right field fence of Hillenbrand Stadium and has been a hot spot for home run hitters over the years. Goodacre watched her home run go somewhere over the roof of Gittings and said she doesn’t really know how far it went, but that it was far. Candrea added that he can remember only three home runs in his time at Arizona getting to the roof during game action.
“I didn’t really think about it feet-wise, but I do keep on replaying it in my head, I have to admit,” Goodacre said. “It’s probably the best one I’ve ever hit and it might be the best one I’ll ever hit.”
The sheer number of home runs this season has broken or tied at least two records over the past week. The team set the single-game team home run record by hitting eight against Utah on Saturday, and freshman Katiyana Mauga tied the single-game individual home run record by hitting three home runs in the same game.
Mauga is second on the team with 18 home runs and one of five Arizona batters with double-digit home runs. As a freshman, Mauga has started 43 games and was one of the finalists for the inaugural NFCA Division 1 National Freshman of the Year Award, an award Mauga said she has already won.
“It felt so great,” Mauga said. “Before softball you’re a student so you have to show what you can do academic-wise and you come to the field and show what you can do.”
Having that kind of power throughout the lineup has Arizona as the No. 8 team in the national rankings and a likely hosting location for the regional round of the NCAA Championships.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555