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Arizona softball: Wildcats finish Easton Bama Bash 3-2, unable to take down Alabama

A fairly successful weekend for the ladies as they finally come back home

Gabe Encinas

The Arizona Wildcats fled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for their third consecutive tournament of the season, heading in ranked 15th in the nation. At the Easton Bama Bash, Arizona took Marshall on twice, No. 4 Alabama twice and No. 14 Tennessee once. The ladies came away from the weekend with a 3-2 record, only failing to defeat the Crimson Tide.

The Wildcats finally come back home this weekend for the Wildcat Invitational, where they'll host BYU, Mount St. Mary's, St. Francis, James Madison and UTEP. The action starts back up on Thursday, March 3rd at 6 pm with BYU. The girls play all weekend long, going through 1 pm on Sunday, March 6th.

Day 1: Marshall and No. 4 Alabama

The Wildcats got it started on Friday going up against Marshall. Freshman Taylor McQuillin got the start in the circle and managed the game, until getting into some trouble in the third inning, giving up a grand slam. Arizona responded in the 4th inning, plating four to tie the game. McQuillin found her groove and was able to retire seven of the next eight after giving up the grand slam.

From there, Arizona took over in the fifth inning with Alexis Dotson and Lauren Young bringing runners home, creating a 7-4 lead. Two unearned runs in the sixth inning for Marshall made it a 7-6 game, with Candrea turning to Danielle O'Toole in the seventh, who successfully closed the game out.

Later in the day, Arizona played No. 4 Alabama, with Danielle O'Toole taking down the first three batters she faced. Catching seemed to be the issue for Arizona, as Robyn Porter allowed a pitch to get by, giving Alabama a 1-0 lead. Not much action until Mandie Perez was able to beat out a pickle to score, followed by Alexis Dotson bringing Katiyana Mauga home to tie the game at two. Arizona was able to add one more run, giving Danielle O'Toole a little insurance, as she battled into the seventh inning, where an error allowed two runs for the Alabama walk-off, 4-3.

Day 2: No. 14 Tennessee and No. 4 Alabama

Mandie Perez hit a lead-off homerun to right center to give Arizona their only run of the day. That's all the Cats needed, as this was a major pitching battle. Danielle O'Toole allowed only four hits and struck out seven, giving the Wildcats another ranked win on the season.

Another date with Alabama came later in the day, with this one being not nearly as close as their first matchup. Arizona started off on the right foot, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. But Alabama responded with two scores of their own. Arizona pitchers got roughed up, with Taylor McQuillin bowing out after 1.1 innings. Nancy Bowling took over and had a great performance through her first 2.2 innings, not allowing a single hit until the fourth inning where she gave up a two-run home run. Michelle Floyd came in for an inning and got roughed up herself, allowing four runs to go by for Alabama, dropping this game 9-1 in six innings.

Day 3: Marshall

Arizona's last game of the Bama Bash put them up against Marshall, who hadn't won a game all weekend. They started the game with a 1-0 lead after stealing home, but Arizona piled it up early, with a five-run inning courtesy of Mo Mercado, Katiyana Mauga, and Nancy Bowling. Mandie Perez joined the fun in the fourth adding her own solo home run, giving Arizona their sixth and final run of the game. Marshall was able to add two more runs, but Danielle O'Toole came away with the 6-3 victory.

*****

The team will be without Eva Watson for another 4-6 weeks as she suffered a knee injury. The injury moved quite a few pieces around, including Katiyana Mauga to right field and Ashleigh Hughes to second base, which moved Lauren Young over to third, replacing Mauga.