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Softball hosts Wildcat Invitational, looking to continue hot start

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Logan Cook | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona's Mandie Perez readies a swing during the UA-Northwestern softball game on Feb. 11.

The Arizona softball team is rolling one week into the season and things could not have gone better for the Wildcats in the Hillenbrand Invitational. They swept the competition going 5-0 in the four-day tournament outscoring opponents 39-6.

Senior Danielle O’Toole started her senior campaign strong, as she went 3-0 with an ERA of 0.35 and registered 22 strikeouts in during the weekend. Fellow senior Katiyana Mauga inched closer to Arizona’s school home run record, and the NCAA’s record, as she blasted four homers in the invitational. Mauga was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week.

Freshmen Jessie Harper and Alyssa Palomino came up big in their first competitive collegiate tournament. Palomino came up with several big hits in games against Fordham and Cal State Northridge, while Harper hit her first home run in a Wildcats uniform.

This weekend Arizona will be at it again hosting the Wildcat Invitational. The tournament will take place from Thursday to Sunday, as Drake, Ball State, Abilene Christian, Boston College and North Dakota State will all make the cross country trip to face the Wildcats over a span of four days.

Arizona 7, Drake 0

The Wildcat Invitational started on Thursday night, with the Arizona Wildcats prevailing 7-0 over the Drake Bulldogs. No.9 Arizona, continued their strong start to the season riding on the back of lights out pitching from Danielle O’Toole.

Pearl Dixon | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona's Danielle O'Toole pitches during the UA-Baylor softball game on Saturday, Feb. 11.

O’Toole picked up right were she left off last weekend tossing 5 scoreless innings, never giving the Bulldogs any chance to get something going. The senior from California improved to 4-0, keeping her ERA under one.

“I’m not a strikeout pitcher, I’m very much a ground out pitcher. Tonight I went out and did just that. I had a nice solid start tonight.”

The team was able to jump out to a quick 2-0 lead, thanks to RBI’s by Mandie Perez and Mo Mercado. A bomb by Jessie Harper in the fifth inning, put Arizona in the driver’s seat with a 4-0 lead. They held on to win 7-0.

Ball State vs. Arizona: Friday @ 3 P.M.

The Cardinals come stumbling in with a 1-4 record after a poor first week of the season. Ball State started the season with a 5-2 win over DePaul, before struggling in their remaining games in the Louisiana Classic.

The Cardinals are led by senior Amanda Arnett, who was one of the few bright spots for Ball State in the opening weekend of their season. She knocked in 4 RBIs and posted a .333 batting average.

Abilene Christian vs. Arizona: Friday @ 5 P.M.

Abilene Christian school comes to town with hoping to improve on their 3-3 mark for the season. Abilene Christian has already had highs and lows already in the 2017 season. Two quality wins over Texas State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi put the team in good standing, but they lost two of their next three games in the CenturyLink Classic.

Holly Neese has carried the Wildcats of Abilene Christian, leading them in almost every statistical category for the team.

Boston College vs. Arizona: Saturday @ 3 P.M.

Boston College will make the long trip to Arizona, when they take on the Wildcats Saturday. Arizona’s ACC opponent has had a promising 2017 campaign so far, coming in at 3-1 and scoring in the double digits in two of their first four games.

Eagles standout Jordan Chimento took home ACC player of the week honors, following a weekend where the junior hit .533 and racked up a team high seven RBIs. Her slugging partner, Tatiana Cortez leads the team in homers with three and has a slugging percentage of 1.273.

North Dakota State vs. Arizona: Sunday @ 1 P.M.

The Bison of North Dakota State are yet another team who struggled ahead of this weekend having picked up only a single win in their first five games of the year. The team’s lone victory was a no-hitter thrown by Jacquelyn Sertic, who at the weekends end led the Summit League in strikeouts with 32.

Pearl Dixon | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona's Mo Mercado connects with the ball during the Arizona-Baylor softball game on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is pleased with his team so far, and wants them to get as much experience as he can during their early season tournament games.

“I would love to play as many kids as I can and there are sometime situations that arise where I can. But you really got to take it game by game.”

Arizona continues the Wildcat Invitational on Friday with a doubleheader against Ball State and Abilene Christian. Game one against the Cardinal begins at 3 p.m. MST.


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