Softball knocks in 12 against Yavapai
The letter ‘K' is slang for a strikeout in baseball and softball, but after Arizona softball's fall opener against Yavapai College yesterday, ‘K' stands for pitcher Kenzie Fowler.
The freshman ace put on her Wildcat uniform for the first time and led the team to a 12-0 beating of the 2009 NJCAA Champion Roughriders at Hillenbrand Stadium, striking out 14 of 20 batters faced.
""I was very nervous at the beginning,"" said Fowler, who pitched six innings and combined with closer Ashley Ralston-Alvarez to notch a no-hitter. ""It was a big deal because it was (my) first game as a Wildcat so I was excited.""
Fowler's fellow freshmen had a strong first game at Hillenbrand Stadium as well.
Newcomer Matte Haack of Katy, Texas, started at third base and went 3-for-4 hitting, highlighted by a grand slam that put the Wildcats up 9-0 by the end of the third inning.
""I was just coming up to get some good quality at-bats,"" Haack said. ""My team did a really good job of getting runners in scoring positions. I was just looking for something on the inside part of the plate to drive.""
Nine of the runs were scored in the game's third inning after the Wildcats awoke from an off-season slumber.
They jumped on Yavapai pitcher Tatem Day after Arizona sophomore Karissa Buchanan and junior Lauren Schutzler each slap-hit singles off Day's first two pitches in the inning. Buchanan scored on an error and two Wildcat hits aided two more base runners home before freshman Baillie Kirker rocketed a two-run RBI into left field.
""I liked a lot of things today,"" head coach Mike Candrea said. ""I think our freshmen swung … the bats well.
""The thing I love more than anything was the atmosphere out here, the great enthusiasm in the dugout,"" Candrea added. ""I didn't see anyone hang their heads. I think tonight they played the game, had some fun … no complaints.""
The Wildcats added two more runs in the fourth inning when Central Arizona College transfer Nicole Bryan found first base on a slap-hit single. Second base sophomore Kristen Arriola then hit a homer to left-center field to give Arizona a commanding 11-0 advantage.
In the sixth, it was Buchanan who again used her hitting talent — seemingly much improved from last year — to score Arriola on another single. She finished with two runs scored and one RBI.
Ralston-Alvarez subbed for Fowler during the sixth inning, seeing her first action in the circle for the Wildcats. The senior transferred from Pima Community College before last season but was behind senior pitcher Sarah Akamine, now-transferred Lindsey Sisk and former pitcher Jennifer Martinez.
Though it won't count come the NCAA tournament selection committee, Candrea said it's important to use the fall schedule as a teaching tool for the younger players.
""I told them they're a good (junior college) team right now,"" he said. ""Now we have to be a great Division I team.""