Arizona softball again rallies, knocks off ASU

Arizona softball rallies from big deficit for second straight night, takes down ASU 6-4.

TUCSON, Ariz. – For the second consecutive night, Arizona got a late-inning rally to knock off third-ranked Arizona State, pulling out a 6-4 victory Saturday night in front of a season-best 2,732 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Down four runs in the fifth inning, the Cats scored the game’s final six runs, punctuated by a go-ahead three-run homer from Mandie Perez in the sixth.

The Wildcats (30-22, 7-13 Pac-12) used a three-run fifth and a three-run sixth to earn their second straight come-from-behind victory over the Sun Devils. With the win, Arizona, which had just three top-25 victories entering the series, ensured itself a series victory over ASU (42-9, 13-7 Pac-12). The victory also gave the Wildcats the Territorial Cup series point to knot the series at 7.5 points apiece.

With UA down a run in the sixth inning, Kelsey Rodriguez was hit by a pitch with one out, and Brigette Del Ponte followed with an infield single. Perez, who had just one home run in her last 21 games and five all year, then took an 0-1 pitch over the fence in right-center to give the Wildcats the lead.

ASU produced nearly all of its offense in a three-run fifth. Other than a solo home run to lead off the second inning, the Devils did not have a hit in any other frame.

Arizona's Nancy Bowling allowed five runs on four hits while striking out six and walking just one. Estela Piñon pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and was nearly perfect, as the junior allowed only one base runner -- that coming on an error -- to earn the win and improve to 10-8 on the year.

Alex Lavine had two doubles for UA, giving her two extra-base hits in a game for the first time inher career. The junior drove in a run and scored another.

The Cats scored their final six runs on five hits against the Devils' Mackenzie Popescue (17-5), who took the loss for the second straight night. Popescue had four strikeouts and five walks.

ASU struck first with a Bethany Kemp home run to lead off the second inning and added to its lead with three in the fifth. The rally started inconspicuously when Bowling appeared to record her sixth consecutive out by inducing a one-out groundout off the bat of Elizabeth Caporuscio. But an illegal pitch was called, negating the groundout, and Caporuscio promptly singled on her second chance. Bowling induced a groundout from Bailey Wigness for what would have been the third out of the frame, but the Devils took advantage of their extra-out opportunity, putting together back-to-back-to-back two-out hits to take a 4-0 lead.

Popescue issued back-to-back walks to lead off the fifth inning to Arizona’s No. 7 and No. 8 hitters. Lavine doubled in a run to put runners at second and third with nobody out in a 4-1 game, and ASU catcher Lucy Aubrecht then attempted to pick off Gabbie Sandstedt at third but threw it into left field. Sandstedt scored while Lavine moved up at third, and Hallie Wilson followed with a groundout to second to score Lavine.

A one-out hit-by-pitch of Rodriguez got the Wildcats' rally started in the sixth inning. Del Ponte followed with a single before Perez slammed her sixth homer of the season to put Arizona up 6-4.

ASU got a base runner in the top of the seventh when Wigness reached on an error, but she was left stranded as UA held on.

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