UA softball drops series finale with Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – The 17th-ranked Arizona softball team (23-11, 3-3 Pac-12) dropped an 8-4 decision to Utah (14-15-1, 1-5 Pac-12) in Friday’s series finale. The Cats earned the series win, though, having taken taken the first two games on the road.
 
Both teams committed two errors, granting the opposition three unearned runs apiece in the contest.
 
Chelsea Goodacre went 2 for 3, driving in three of Arizona’s four runs, bringing her team-leading total to 40 on the year.
 
The Wildcats managed just four hits off Utah starter Kayce Nieto, who improved to 3-4 with the victory.
 
Shelby Babcock pitched the first 3 1/3 innings and allowed seven runs, four earned, on seven hits. Babcock struck out three while walking just one in the outing. The junior fell to 11-4 with the loss.
 
Estela Piñon pitched the final 2 2/3 innings and allowed a run on a hit with two strikeouts.
 
Utah got off to a fast start when Chalese Fankhauser reached on an error to begin the bottom of the first and Jackie Sweet homered to dead center to give the Utes a 2-0 lead.
 
Nieto retired the first eight Wildcats she faced and appeared to retire the ninth but a two-base error extended the inning. Alex Lavine moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a second consecutive defensive error. Kelsey Rodriguez singled, the first hit of the game for the Cats and Chelsea Goodacre doubled in a pair to give the Cats a 3-2 lead.

The lead didn’t last long, as the first two batters of the bottom of the third doubled, the latter of which, off the bat of Sweet, tied the game. Shelby Pacheco added an RBI single later in the inning to give the lead back to the Utes.
 
A couple of poor defensive plays helped Utah score three runs in the fourth inning. Babcock walked the first batter she faced and gave up a double to make it 5-3 Utes. A fly ball to shallow left field dropped due to a miscommunication to put runners on the corners, signaling the end of the day for Babcock. Piñon entered and retired the first batter she faced. With two on, Kelsi Hoopiiaina hit a pop up behind second. Second baseman Kelsey Rodriguez, playing her first career game at second, dropped the pop-up on the run to allow two runs to score.
 
Arizona returns home to face California next week in a midweek series.