Wildcats take game one; One win away from WCWS
Arizona infielder Jessie Harper (19) at bat during the third game in the UA-ASU series on April 30 at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
It wasn’t easy, but the No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats softball team is just one win away from reaching the Women’s College World Series after beating No. 15 seed Baylor thanks to a dominant performance from their senior star Katiyana Mauga.
Mauga went three for three which included a solo home run that marked her 92nd of her career, putting her just three shy of the NCAA all-time mark. Mauga’s hitting, combined with Danielle O’Toole’s pitching saw the Wildcats lead 2-0 for most of the game until the fifth inning when the Bears Ari Hawkins hit a two-run shot to tie the game.
Going into the bottom of the final frame, Arizona used timely hitting and a walk from Mauga to load the bases for freshman Jessie Harper. Harper singled to center to drive in Mandi Perez and give the Wildcats a 3-2 victory.
“I thought Kati (Mauga) was really a factor tonight, I don’t think they wanted any part of her,” said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea. “…It was a hard fought victory and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.
The Wildcats are exactly where they were a year ago, up 1-0 of a best of three set and once again has them within a win of the WCWS. The difference being that Arizona is at home and will pick up play Saturday in front of yet another capacity crowd at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium.
Despite Mauga’s performance, the rest of the Wildcats were just off enough to not take advantage of 12 hits and seven runners left on base. Mo Mercado and Dejah Mulipola were the only other batters to get multiple hits.
“We’re playing one of the best teams in the country and you gotta be on your game, everything has to be clicking, you can’t make mistakes,” said Baylor head coach Glenn Moore. “…We did not play as well as we need to play to beat a team of Arizona’s caliber.”
The Wildcats will look to advance to the WCWS Saturday at Hillenbrand, first pitch is set for 6 p.m.
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