TUCSON, Ariz. – The 16th-ranked Arizona softball team completed a perfect appearance at the Hillenbrand Invitational with a 13-1, five-inning victory over Utah State on Sunday.
The Wildcats went 5-0 at the event to improve to 8-2 on the year. Utah State remained winless at 0-10.
Freshman Nancy Bowling earned her first career win in relief in the contest, pitching 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball while striking out three and allowing just one baserunner.
Kelsey Rodriguez, who hit seven home runs in two seasons with Pacific, blasted two homers Sunday and accounted for five RBIs in the game. The junior was one of three Cats to record a multi-RBI game; Chelsea Suitos and Hallie Wilson batted in two runs apiece.
Wilson’s two-RBI double in the second inning was her fourth double of the weekend, part of a 7-for-13 (.538) performance overall. The sophomore batted in four runs during the Hillenbrand Invitational and scored four of her own.
The Wildcats scored 13 runs on 10 hits and took advantage of two Utah State errors in the contest for their best offensive output of the young season. The Arizona pitching duo of Estela Piñon and Bowling limited Utah State to one run on four hits and struck out nine of the 20 batters they faced.
UA plated three runs in the first, added two in the second and then blew the game open by sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs in the third.
Suitos led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk and swiped second, her sixth stolen base on the season in six attempts before moving to third on a passed ball. Wilson walked to put runners on the corners. Wilson stole second and Utah State catcher Kelsie Webster attempted to pick off Suitos at third. The problem, however, was that no one was covering third and throw sailed into left field allowing Suitos to score and give Arizona a 1-0 lead. Kelsey Rodriguez hit her first of two homers, a two-run blast to left to give Arizona a 3-0 lead.
Lauren Young led off the second inning with a double off the right-centerfield fence and moved to third on Suitos’ single to center. Wilson doubled them both home with a gapper to left-center.
Arizona brought 13 batters to the plate in what would turn out to be an eight-run third inning. Entering the day, Arizona had scored eight or more runs in a game just one time all season. Mandy Harmon, who entered to pitch the third inning for the Aggies, relieving Noelle Johnson, walked the first two batters she faced before giving up a hit to Bowling, her third in five at-bats on the young season. Freshmen Mandie Perez and Gabbie Sandstedt followed with RBI singles down the left field line. Suitos scored two with a single to left field before Kelsey Rodriguez’s shot to left-center, her second homer of the game, this one a three-run home run to give the junior five RBI on the game.
“This weekend I thought we put a few more pieces of the puzzle together, which is kind of the name of the game at this time of the year,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “We got a chance to give everyone a chance to play and get some at-bats, and as a team we’re trying to get a feel of who’s going to play where.”