Arizona softball powers past Utah in record fashion

TUCSON, Ariz.The Arizona softball team put its power on full display Saturday night at Hillenbrand Stadium, hitting a school-record eight home runs in an 11-7 win over Utah to ensure a series victory.

Only three other teams in NCAA history have hit more than Arizona’s eight homers in a single game.

Hallie Wilson and Kellie Fox had two home runs each while Katiyana Mauga hit three homers in the contest, tying a school record. Only two players in NCAA history have hit more than Mauga’s three round-trippers.

Arizona (38-9, 11-6 Pac-12) had three more home runs than Utah had hits (five), yet the game was decided by just four runs.

UA pitchers walked nine batters in the contest while the defense, which leads the conference in fielding percentage, uncharacteristically did not do the pitching staff any favors with a pair of errors.

Starter Shelby Babcock lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on three hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. Kenzie Fowler pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit and earning the win to improve to 8-4. However, the senior walked six batters in the outing while striking out three. Estela Pinon pitched the final three innings and faced just one more than the minimum, giving up one hit and not walking a batter.

In addition to the multi-homer contests for Wilson, Fox and Mauga, Kelsey Rodriguez added a solo homer, her fourth of the year. The eight homers brought Arizona’s NCAA-leading total to 88 on the season. Through four games this week, the Wildcats have hit 18 home runs.

Mo Mercado and Courtney Rodriguez had Arizona’s remaining RBI with run-scoring singles in the fourth inning. Mercado had three hits in the game while Rodriguez had two.

The victory improved Arizona to 26-0 at Hillenbrand Stadium this season, the best home record in the nation.

Two homers put three runs on the board for the Cats in the bottom of the first. Wilson led off the frame with a solo shot, and after Chelsea Goodacre worked a two-out walk, Mauga hit an opposite-field shot that put Arizona ahead 3-0.

Utah scored five runs on just one hit in the top of the third. After Babcock walked the first two hitters, she gave up a two-run double to Anissa Urtez. Fowler entered and walked the next three batters to bring in a run. With the bases loaded, an error brought in two more runs to make it 5-3 Utah.

Arizona responded with a pair of solo homers in the bottom half to tie the score, with Fox and Mauga each going deep in the frame.

The tie did not last long, though, as Urtez hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth to give the Utes a 7-5 lead.

Arizona responded with a four-run bottom half to retake the lead for good. Kelsey Rodriguez and Fox hit back-to-back solo homers to tie the score before a Goodacre single and a Utah error put two on for Mercado. The freshman dropped a pop fly in the perfect place down the first-base line to score a run. Courtney Rodriguez added an RBI single to give Arizona a 9-7 lead.

Wilson and Mauga led off each of the next two innings with homers to make it 11-7.