Arizona softball falls one game short of sweeping rival ASU in Pac-12 opener

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Courtney Talak and Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat Arizona outfielder Mandie Perez (55) swings at the ball against BYU on Friday, March 4 at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The Wildcats opened up Pac-12 Conference play over the weekend against in-state rival ASU. Pitching dominated the series for both teams and the Wildcats’ timely hitting was key in their two victories.

Game 1: No. 18 Arizona 2, No. 21 ASU 0

Danielle O’Toole pitched her best game of the year, earning a win against another ranked opponent and delivering a one-hit gem for Arizona. The only hit preventing the no-hitter came on a bloop single in the sixth inning. O’Toole struck out four and walked three and moved to 11-4 on the year.

The Wildcats only produced three hits off of ASU starter Kessler. Kessler spread out three hits over seven innings, but surrendered the biggest mistake of the game. After an ASU error extended the Wildcat seventh, freshman Joelle Krist hit a two-run home run, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.

O’Toole closed out the game with a 1-2-3 seventh and the Wildcats took game one.

Game 2: Arizona 5, ASU 4

The Wildcats were again timely, hitting in a late inning to win game two and clinch their first series win in conference play. Freshman Taylor McQuillin started for the Wildcats and earned the victory going to 8-3 on the year.

McQuillin went six innings and only allowed three earned runs on a three-run home in the fourth inning. The Wildcats fell behind 4-3 and the score would not change until the final inning.

Mandie Perez had a career-high four-hit game. After homering in the third, Perez came to the plate with two outs in the seventh. Perez hit a two-run home run to dead center to give Arizona the 5-4 lead that stood as the final score.

O’Toole picked up her second save of the season, closing out the seventh inning.

Game 3: ASU 3, Arizona 2

Another pitching duel saw Arizona come up just short of a series sweep.

O’Toole and Kessler both went the distance again, but a two-run home run from ASU in the fifth inning put the Sun Devils ahead for good 3-2. O’Toole lost her scoreless streak that stretched over five appearances and was at 19.2 innings. O’Toole fell to 11-5.

Katiyana Mauga hit her 10th home run of the season, a two-run home run in the fourth inning, which put the Wildcats up 2-0. The Wildcats struggled to produce any other offense until the seventh inning, when they loaded the bases. They could not produce a third, consecutive, seventh-inning victory.

The series victory is the first for the Wildcats over ASU since 2013.

Arizona’s Pac-12 debut at home begins against Utah on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.


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