Arizona softball sweeps Ball State in record fashion

TUCSON In a program that has won eight national championships and has topped the 60-win plateau five times, the Wildcats had never run-ruled seven straight opponents. That changed on Tuesday, when the Wildcats run-ruled Ball State twice, marking the seventh and then eighth consecutive run-rule victories for the 2014 Cats.

Arizona defeated Ball State (12-4) 16-2 and 12-3 in the doubleheader.

The Wildcats (20-1) have run-ruled nine of their last 10 opponents. The lone seven-inning game? A 7-0 victory over No. 11 Nebraska. In the 10-game stretch, the Wildcats are outscoring their opponents 108-10.

The two mercy wins gave Arizona 15 for the season in 21 tries after having just eight in 59 games a season ago.

Arizona outscored Ball State, which defeated then-third-ranked ASU 3-0 on Sunday night, 28-5 in the doubleheader, marking the most runs in a doubleheader since plating 34 against Saint Joseph’s on March 8, 2009.

Arizona hit six home runs in the doubleheader to snag the conference lead with 34 round-trippers on the season. Chelsea Goodacre had two, both in game two of the doubleheader, while Kelsey Rodriguez, Lauren Young, Mo Mercado and Katiyana Mauga had one each.

Kelsey Rodriguez, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, went 4-for-5 on the day with a double, a home run and seven RBI. Rodriguez is now 9-of-her-last-11 (.818) with six doubles and a home run. On the season, she leads the team with a .523 batting average.

Game 1 – Arizona 16, Ball State 2 (5 innings)

The Wildcats scored the most runs since March 27, 2011 on their way to a 16-2, five-inning victory over Ball State in game one of the doubleheader.

Arizona had two players that were a hit shy of the cycle in the contest. Hallie Wilson was a home run short, while Kelsey Rodriguez needed a triple. Neither would record a fourth at-bat in the contest.

Kelsey Rodriguez tied a career high with five RBI in her 3-for-3 outing. Wilson and Lauren Young added three each. Mo Mercado and Katiyana Mauga homered and drove in a pair runs apiece.

Starter Shelby Babcock lasted just an inning plus one batter and gave up two runs on three hits. Estela Pinon entered in the second and did not give up a run on two hits with six strikeouts and two walks in four innings of work. Pinon earned the win in relief to improve to 4-1 on the year.

The first three batters that Babcock faced reached base, loading the bases with no one out. Babcock would walk in a run, but limit the damage to just the single run allowed.

The Wildcats responded in a big way in the bottom of the first. Arizona sent 11 players to the plate and scored seven runs, all with two out. Hallie Wilson singled to start the frame. With two out, Chelsea Goodacre walked. Kelsey Rodriguez singled in a run to tie the game and Lauren Young followed with a two-RBI bloop single to right to make it 3-1 Arizona. After Mo Mercado reached on an error, Katiyana Mauga singled a run in to make it 4-1. Alex Lavine reached on an error to load the bases and Wilson, in her second at-bat of the inning, doubled them clear to give Arizona a 7-1 lead.

Selena Reyna led off the second inning with a homer to chase Babcock in favor of Pinon.

The Cats would add four-spots in both the second and third innings. Arizona had back-to-back homers in both the second and third frames with Mercado and Mauga going back-to-back in the second and Kelsey Rodriguez and Young going back-to-back in the third.

Kellie Fox would pick up her Pac-12-best 32nd RBI in the fourth inning on a single to right to give the Cats the 16-2 edge.

Senior centerfielder Alex Lavine injured her left knee in the second inning. The extent of her injury is unknown at this time.

Game 2 – Arizona 12, Ball State 3 (5 innings)

Chelsea Goodacre drove in a career-high seven runs and recorded her sixth-career multi-homer game, leading the Wildcats to a 12-3, five-inning victory over Ball State in the nightcap.

Despite allowing the most runs it has given up all season, the Cats cruised to their eighth consecutive run-rule victory, a school record.

Goodacre’s seven RBI gave her 32 for the year, tying her with teammate Kellie Fox atop the Pac-12 charts. Chelsea Suitos and Kelsey Rodriguez chipped in two RBI each as well.

Nancy Bowling (5-0) went the distance for Arizona. The sophomore allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits. Bowling struck out seven and did not walk a batter in the outing.

A pair of one-out walks put two on for Goodacre in the first inning, who singled in a run, her first of seven RBI. Kelsey Rodriguez singled through the right side to put Arizona ahead 3-0 before Mo Mercado added an RBI to give the Cats a 4-0 lead after one inning.

Arizona one-upped its first-inning performance in the second, when it scored five runs on five hits. Courtney Rodriguez led off the inning with a single and moved to third on Hallie Wilson’s third extra-base hit of the day, a double to left center. Suitos singled them both in to make the score 5-0 Arizona. Fox singled to right before Goodacre launched her first of two three-run home runs on the day.

The second three-run Goodacre homer would come in the third, coming on the heels of a three-run top of the third for Ball State.