Arizona softball sees mixed results in first two days of Wildcat Invitational
The Wildcats began play at the Wildcat Invitational facing off against BYU on Thursday night, and then a doubleheader against Mount St. Mary’s and BYU on Friday night.
GAME 1 – BYU 4, No. 15 Arizona 2
The Wildcats’ inconsistent lineup continued its struggles on Thursday night in Arizona’s first matchup with BYU ace McKenna Bull. Bull came into the game with an impressive 94 strikeouts in 75 innings pitched. She maintained that pace by setting down nine Wildcats via strikeout en route to going the distance in the victory.
Wildcat starter Danielle O’Toole fell to 7-3 on the year in the loss. She struck out five Cougars while allowing seven hits and three earned runs.
Only four Wildcats recorded hit in the contest, and the team did not score any runs after the third inning.
Mandie Perez scored in the first on Katiyana Mauga’s bloop single that fell in between the BYU second basemen and right fielder. The other run was scored on an infield single from Ashleigh Hughes that pushed Perez over to make it 2-2 in the third inning.
O’Toole struggled in the fourth allowing hits to the first two batters and a fielder’s choice made it 3-2 BYU, and they never looked back. After a wild pitch, Ashleigh Hughes committed an error at second to make it 4-2.
Bull shut down the Wildcats in the final three innings and the Wildcats suffered only their fourth loss in the history of the Wildcat Invitational (96-4).
GAME 2 – No. 15 Arizona 16 Mount St. Mary’s 5 (5 innings)
A nine-run first inning from the Wildcats propelled them to a run-rule victory in the second game of the invitational. All of the first inning runs were unearned coming off of five Mountaineer errors. Mount St. Mary’s had eight total errors on the game that led to thirteen unearned runs for the Wildcats. The Mountaineers entered the game winless on the season, and are yet to win a game at the Wildcat Invitational.
Freshman Taylor McQuillin started in the circle for the Wildcats and earned the victory moving to 4-2 on the year. She gave up one earned run and recorded six strikeouts. McQuillin gave up three early runs in the second inning but settled down going the distance in the five inning affair.
Mandie Perez hit her fourth home run of the season and Mauga hit her fifth on the year.
GAME 3 – No. 15 Arizona 6 BYU 3
The third game of the tournament for the Wildcats featured a re-match between BYU and starter McKenna Bull. The Wildcats struggled in their first meeting with Bull, when they were held to just five hits.
Katiyana Mauga made sure Arizona wasted no time getting on the board early against Bull with an opposite field home run to leadoff the second inning that gave Arizona a 1-0 lead.
Arizona’s defensive issues continued in the third when a sharply hit ground ball took an awkward bounce of Mauga’s glove and slid under the glove of Mandie Perez in left field allowing the BYU base runner to score all the way from first base, tying the score 1-1.
Freshman Tamara Statman continued to swing the bat well and recorded another multi-hit ball game. Statman worked a full count in the bottom of the third inning finally coming through with a base hit to left that drove in Mandie Perez to make it 2-1 Wildcats. Coach Candrea has been impressed with the play of Statman so far.
“She’s done a good job. I moved her up to fifth today because of what she’s bee doing offensively. Hopefully, we can keep her up there and keep it going,” said Candrea.
An error on a popup later in the inning made it 4-1 Wildcats and they would hold the lead for the rest of the game. Mauga would add her second home run of the game for good measure in the fifth inning making it 6-1 and chasing McKenna Bull from the game.
O’Toole earned the victory in the rematch going the distance to move to 8-3 for the season. O’Toole struck out six while allowing seven hits and gave up no earned runs.
Head coach Mike Candrea thought the difference in the team’s performance against BYU on the second night was simple.
“The difference tonight was Katiyana. That was a big part of it. The second [home run] really broke their back,” Candrea said.
The Wildcats improved to 13-6 on the season and will continue play this Saturday and Sunday against St. Francis, UTEP, and No. 10 James Madison.