Column: Softball took care of business against Oregon State
Arizona softball pitcher Michelle Floyd (94) winds up for a pitch during Arizona's 8-5 loss to ASU on March 27 at Hillenbrand Stadium. Floyd and the Wildcats made easy work of Oregon State over the weekend.
Arizona softball did more than take care of business when it traveled to Corvallis, Ore., for a three-game series with the Oregon State Beavers. The Wildcats dominated.
Despite battling with rain delays and foggy weather, the Wildcats controlled the series in all aspects by slugging together 38 runs over three games and limiting Oregon State to nothing but a few solitary offensive outbursts.
Arizona even set a program record for most runs scored in a road game, when the UA defeated the Beavers 22-3 to close out the series sweep on Saturday. It was the Wildcats’ first road conference sweep since 2011.
For a group that has struggled with consistency this year, the sweep serves as an encouraging sign going forward.
In particular, the Arizona staff has to be pleased with pitcher Michelle Floyd’s weekend. The sophomore tossed 11 innings total, including a complete game on Saturday in which she gave up just two runs.
While Floyd may not fit the prototypical ace role, her improving efficiency on the mound usually puts the Wildcats in a good position to win.
Freshman Trish Parks also put together a strong series, earning victoriesFriday (in relief of Floyd) and game number two on Saturday.
With one of the nation’s top-hitting offenses behind them, Floyd and Parks don’t have to be perfect every time out. They need to keep Arizona in striking distance, and right now, they are more than fulfilling that role.
Speaking of the Wildcats’ offense, it seems like no one in the conference can slow Arizona’s barrage of power hitters.
With the help of some poor Oregon State pitching, the UA hit seven homers over the three games. And not only are the Wildcats hitting the ball over the fence, they are also doing so with runners on base.
In the series opener, Arizona shortstop Kellie Fox sent out a game-tying two-run homer that would propel Arizona to a big rally. In game two, UA catcher Chelsea Goodacre delivered a three-run homer to break things open.
Then in the finale, the Wildcats hit not one but two grand slams to cap off the fireworks. The grand slams belonged to Goodacre and UA outfielder Katiyana Mauga, who each have 16 homers on the season.
Goodacre also increased her RBI count to 62, the most in the country.
Capitalizing with runners in scoring position is still a work-in-progress for the UA, but the power display against the Beavers signals Arizona is in the right direction.
Whether the trio of wins proves to be a turning point or whether it was just another beat-down of a much inferior opponent, Arizona looks the part of a Pac-12 Conference title contender — at least when everything is clicking.
Currently, the Wildcats are tied for second in the conference standings, three-and-a-half games behind top-ranked Oregon. The two teams will face each other on the last weekend of the regular series when the Ducks travel to Tucson.
Of course, there’s a lot of time between now and then. Things pick back up this weekend when Arizona hosts nationally ranked Washington for a three-game series.
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