Long ball leads Arizona softball to sweep

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona softball hit nine home runs in two games, three off the bat of Courtney Rodriguez, to sweep a doubleheader against New Mexico State at Hillenbrand Stadium Wednesday night, 13-3 (5 innings) in game one and 13-7 in the nightcap.

Sophomore outfielder Courtney Rodriguez did not have a home run and had hit just nine extra base hits in her 163 career at-bats entering the game. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native hit three home runs in the doubleheader, one of four Wildcats to register multi-homer nights. Hallie Wilson, Chelsea Goodacre and Lauren Young all homered twice.

Arizona (36-9, 9-6 Pac-12), which leads the nation in home runs, has now hit 79 homers this season.

New Mexico State (26-21, 8-4 WAC) joined in on the home run derby as well, hitting four of its own in the doubleheader.

Goodacre extended her Pac-12 lead in RBI as she picked up seven total in the two games, bringing her to 63 on the season. Courtney Rodriguez added six on the night.

Senior centerfielder Alex Lavine, who tore her ACL on March 4 and was declared out for the season, made her return tonight, appearing in game one as a pinch hitter, going 1-for-1 with a run scored at the plate. Lavine then stayed in to play center field in her first game back.

The doubleheader sweep kept Arizona perfect at home. Arizona is 24-0 at Hillenbrand Stadium this season, 18 of those wins coming in mercy-fashion.

Game 1 — Arizona 13, New Mexico State 3 (5 inn.)

Nine different batters recorded a hit, including six multi-hit efforts, as Arizona cruised to a 13-3 victory in game one, needing just five innings to do so.

Arizona’s 1-through-5 hitters went a combined 11-for-18 (.611) with three homers and nine RBI while it received a 3-for-3 effort with a homer and four RBI out of the No. 9 spot, as the Wildcats used a 16-hit onslaught to down the Aggies.

Shelby Babcock, after giving up a first-inning two-run homer, settled in and allowed just three hits the rest of the way. The senior remained perfect on the season (5-0) with the victory, in which she gave up three runs on five hits with five walks and four strikeouts.

After Staci Rodriguez put the Aggies on the board with a two-run homer in the first, Hallie Wilson took the second pitch of the bottom of the first deep to center to cut NMSU’s lead in half. The next two Wildcats would single, but, with help of a double play, Makayla McAdams (9-5) would get out of the inning surrendering no further damage.

In the bottom of the second, Lauren Young walked and Cynthia Pelayo singled to second to put two on for Courtney Rodriguez, who hit her first career home run the opposite way.

After New Mexico State used a bases loaded walk to make it 4-2 in the top of the third, Arizona plated seven runs in the bottom half of the frame.

Two walks and an error loaded the bases for Courtney Rodriguez with no one out. The sophomore’s infield single brought in a run and kept the bases loaded for Wilson, who hit a grand slam off the scoreboard, her second homer of the game and third grand slam of the season. Kelsey Rodriguez followed with a double and scored on Goodacre’s one-out homer to center to make it 11-3 Arizona after three.

In the fourth, Lavine led off the frame with a single and scored on a Kellie Fox groundout. Goodacre followed with an RBI single to score the game’s final run, securing a 13-3 victory for Arizona.

Game 2 — Arizona 13, New Mexico State 7

A nine-run first inning, eight of which scored before New Mexico State recorded an out, led Arizona to a 13-7 victory in the nightcap.

Young and Courtney Rodriguez had two homers each, while Chelsea Goodacre added one of her own in the victory.

Arizona used a trio of pitchers, with Nancy Bowling (7-0) picking up the victory. Bowling allowed five runs on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in four innings pitched. Michelle Floyd pitched 1.1 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on just one hit with three walks.

Estela Pinon earned her second save of the season, inheriting and getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth and then tossing a scoreless seventh in the process.

Just as in the first game, Arizona faced an early 2-0 deficit thanks to a first-inning two-run NMSU homer, this one off the bat of Lacey Rother.

Arizona responded in a big way, picking up nine runs on eight hits in the bottom of the first inning.

Wilson began the inning with a walk. After a pair of singles including a Fox RBI single, Goodacre hit her Pac-12 best 18th homer of the season to right-center. Katiyana Mauga hit her second double of the night, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error to put Arizona on top 5-2 with no one out. Mo Mercado walked before Young and Courtney Rodriguez hit back-to-back home runs. Finally, New Mexico State recorded the first out of the inning, but it would not be the end of the scoring for the Wildcats. Wilson doubled to left and Fox, for the second time in the inning, batter her home with a single to center.

The Aggies got one run back in the second on Malena Padilla’s solo homer to right-center.

In the bottom of the third, Arizona took advantage of an error to plate two unearned runs. Chelsea Suitos reached on the error to begin the inning and moved to second on Wilson’s walk. Goodacre grounded into a double play to score Suitos before Mauga’s single to left plated Wilson to give Arizona an 11-3 lead.

New Mexico State hit its third homer of the game, again off the bat of Padilla, to get two runs back in the fourth.

Young led off the fourth with her second homer of the game, giving her four-career multi-homer games.

After a pair of Floyd walks and a single through the left side loaded the bases for NMSU in the sixth, Padilla hit a deep fly ball to center field. Her bid for her third homer of the game and grand slam came up just short, but Arizona centerfielder Courtney Rodriguez dropped the fly ball to allow two runs to score. After Floyd walked the next batter to reload the bases with one out, Pinon entered and struck out the next two batters to strand the bases loaded.

Arizona got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Courtney Rodriguez hit her third homer of the night.

Pinon worked a scoreless seventh to preserve the Wildcat victory.