No. 18 Arizona softball travels to face No. 11 Washington
Arizona softball is looking forward to its weekend matchup with the No. 11 Washington Huskies after coming off consecutive weekends that include three last-inning victories by a combined four runs.
After two walk-off victories against ASU in Tempe, the Wildcats won their second straight conference series against University of Utah last weekend, as pitching continued to lead the Wildcats in the series. But the highlight of the series came at the plate.
Arizona managed to come back from a 4-0 deficit and Katiyana Mauga didn’t waste any time ending the game. Mauga took the 0-1 offering form Utah pitcher Sammy Cordova and sent it over the left field fence, giving the Wildcats a 5-4 win and a series victory.
Pitching remains the story for Arizona as Danielle O’Toole and Taylor McQuillin continue to shut down opposing teams and keep the Wildcats in some close games. As a team, the Wildcats are No. 1 in the Pac-12 Conference in ERA, coming in at a 2.26 clip, and O’Toole (1.85) and McQuillin (2.64) are first and fourth, respectively.
Lefties are an issue for any lineup on any night, and will certainly continue to be needed as Arizona gets deeper in to conference play.
Arizona’s lineup remains top heavy, but timely hitting finally turned in the Wildcats’ favor over the last two weeks. Mandie Perez has an important job as a leadoff hitter to get on base and score runs, and she has produced in both categories.
Perez is getting on base at a .462 percent rate and leads the team in runs scored by a wide margin at 36. Her seventh-inning, two-run home run gave the Wildcats the two game victories in Tempe two weekends ago.
The second spot continues to be a rotation of players since the injury to Eva Watson. Watson actually returned in the series against ASU but did not play against Utah.
A rotation between sophomore Ashleigh Hughes, junior Alexis Dotson and freshman Tamara Statman means they have all received their chances, but none have been able to keep it consistently.
Mauga has settled in and become comfortable with opposing teams approach toward her. Mauga has displayed her patience and is sitting at second in the Pac-12 in walks at 27. She walked only 32 times all of last year.
Even with her newfound patience, Mauga is still aggressive and if teams are willing to pitch to her, it’s at their own risk. Just ask the Utes.
Mauga led off the inning and Utah elected to pitch to Mauga, and she was locked in on what pitch was coming. After referring to a pop out in her first at-bat against Cordova, Mauga commented on her game winning at-bat.
“I was just thinking walk me or pitch me that change up again,” Mauga said.
Arizona head coach Mike Candrea was surprised as well.
“When she walked up, I for sure thought they were going to walk her,” Candrea said. “It was a crazy weekend. Utah’s a good team.”
Arizona will look to ride its momentum and climb higher in the rankings this weekend in Seattle. Game one starts Saturday at 7 p.m.
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