clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona softball: Wildcats sweep Hillenbrand Invitational in dominant fashion

A big weekend for Arizona Softball, starting the season off 6-0

Gabe Encinas

The 13th-ranked Arizona Wildcats opened up the regular season with the Hillenbrand Invitational, hosting Purdue, Nebraska-Omaha, North Texas and Southern Utah. Mike Candrea's squad walked away unscathed, starting the season with a 6-0 record.

All games combined, the Wildcats allowed 12 runs, compared to their 63. It was a weekend filled with dominant pitching, exactly what Coach Candrea said one of this team's strengths was. Led by SDSU transfer Danielle O'Toole, Nancy Bowling and true freshman Taylor McQuillin, the Wildcats struck out a combined 40% of the batters they faced.

But Arizona was able to generate the run support as well. In those six games, they unleashed a total of 14 home runs, seven of which came from the bats of Mo Mercado and Katiyana Mauga. Arizona's speed was also a major factor in bringing runners home.

"I think you see the value of our overall speed," said head coach Mike Candrea. "You have Ashleigh [Hughes], then [Eva] Watson and Mandie [Perez], pretty good stuff right there. That's the thing that we're going to have to do and we're going to be generating runs any way that we can. We're not going to live by the three-run home run, we can certainly get those with this lineup. But I think you're going to see a lot more speed and being able to do a lot more with that part of the game."

"I think this team has worked very hard to get to this point and they're a very tight-knit group and we're where we need to be at this point. It's going to get rougher the further we go so be prepared," he added.

Southern Utah, 10-2 (5 innings)

Arizona opened the season with a win over Southern Utah on Thursday evening, run-ruling the Thunderbirds by a final score of 10-2. For more on the season-opening win, check out the recap here.

Southern Utah, 10-0 (5 innings)

The Wildcats took on Southern Utah once again on Friday, in the first of a double-header. They run-ruled the Thunderbirds once again, with true freshman pitcher Taylor McQuillin giving up four hits, but not allowing a single run in her first collegiate start. Arizona went on to win 10-0. Eva Watson continued her hit streak, starting the season off 6-for-6 at the plate.

North Texas, 9-1 (6 innings)

Arizona finally got a new opponent with North Texas, taking them down by a final score of 9-1 after six innings. This time, it was Nancy Bowling in the circle, who will be rotating between first base and pitcher throughout the season. Junior pitcher Michelle Floyd came in for relief in the 4th inning to finish the game. The infield brought the bats, with Katiyana Mauga, Mo Mercado and Lauren Young leading the way, which is something you can expect to happen a lot this season.

Purdue, 11-1 (5 innings)

The Wildcats took on another double-header on Saturday, this time starting with a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers. Danielle O'Toole gave up one hit in the first, allowing one run through, but pitched a nearly flawless game after that, striking out eight of the final 12 batters.

"[O'Toole] I thought pitched a game that we haven't seen in Hillenbrand in a long time. She was in control and had them eating out of her hand," Mike Candrea said about his pitcher.

"I thought it was good. Coming into today, I felt that Purdue was going to give us a battle. The lefty that we faced is pretty good. She one-hit Oregon last year and that's nothing to sneeze about," coach said about the win over Purdue. "So I was really kind of ready to see what we would do against her and I thought we did a nice job of jumping on her quickly."

Nebraska-Omaha, 12-2 (5 innings)

The 'Cats got it popping in the first inning, taking a seven-run lead. They extended the lead to 10 runs in the second inning, riding it out until the end. Taylor McQuillin got roughed up a bit in the third inning, giving up a two-run home run, but got back on track and finished the night with 11 strikeouts.

"Taylor I think is just a gamer, where she just comes out," Candrea said about his freshman's performance. "She had that one inning where she gave up a few hits, but she's a freshman and she's got some growing to do and she'll do it. She's going to be a good one."

UC-Santa Barbara, 11-6 (7 innings)

The Gauchos were Arizona's only opponent that wasn't run-ruled. The Wildcats had their back against the wall early after Danielle O'Toole got in some trouble. Katiyana Mauga quickly changed the momentum of the game, hitting a home run to tie it at three in the third inning.

Tamara Statman and Eva Watson also went over the fence, both hitting their first career home runs at Arizona. From there on out, it was Mo Mercado, who hit a home run in the fifth and sixth inning, powering Arizona to an 11-6 win over the Gauchos.


The team will be heading to Palm Springs this weekend for the Mary Nutter Invitational, taking on LSU, Central Michigan, Central Florida, Texas A&M and Cal Poly.