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Arizona softball: Wildcats open Pac-12 play with a 2-0 win over ASU Sun Devils

A freshman came up big in her first rivalry game

Gabe Encinas

Coming in with 18-8 record, the 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats have officially begun Pac-12 Conference play. The Wildcats headed north to Tempe for a weekend series against the No. 21 Arizona State Sun Devils, who entered with a 21-7 record.

After picking up some much-needed momentum in Texas this past weekend, sweeping the Maverick Classic, Arizona opened up Pac-12 play with a 2-0 win over ASU.

"It's a good victory. A good hard fought game, it reminds me of old time softball with two good pitchers going at it and we got the timely hit tonight," head coach Mike Candrea said about that win. "Obviously Danielle O'Toole pitched a great game and made some great defensive plays and got that timely hit."

Danielle O'Toole, who has dominated opponents thus far, boasting a 1.81 ERA, got the start for Arizona. This was a pitcher's duel and O'Toole was able to hold off the Sun Devils all night long.

Eva Watson was inserted back into the lineup for Arizona, after recovering from an injury suffered back in February during the Mary Nutter Invitational. She was able to provide the first hit of the game in the top of the fourth inning, but was then caught stealing second base later in the inning.

There wasn't much action until the sixth inning, where O'Toole found herself in a bit of trouble. With a runner on first and second with two outs, Jennifer Soria lined the pitch right back to the Arizona pitcher, who quickly snagged it to end the inning.

To the seventh inning we went, which is when Arizona finally got things going. Lauren Young found herself on first base and freshman first baseman Joelle Krist was able to get one over the left field wall, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh.

That was her second home run of her career.

O'Toole was able to shut the door on the Sun Devils, retiring all three batters in ASU's final frame, giving Arizona the win in its Pac-12 opener.

"The kid that hit it (Joelle Krist) is a kid that has waited her turn so it was fun to see her go through," Candrea said of his freshman.

"A couple reasons, one defensively but offensively, you know," he said about inserting Krist in the lineup." I've given [Nancy] Bowling quite a few games but I felt like it was time to make a change and give [Krist] a chance and she came through."

"I was so excited," Joelle Krist said about watching the ball go over the fence. "Yes, that was an awesome way to open it up. I love it. It was definitely key. I need a lot of confidence and confidence is key for this team."

The Wildcats will face the Sun Devils once again on Saturday in the second game of a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 PM MST.