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Arizona softball: Katiyana Mauga lifts Wildcats to series win with walk-off home run

Nancy Bowling stops the bleeding for Arizona and the slugger comes up with a walk-off

Gabe Encinas

The Arizona Wildcats dropped game two of their three-game series against the Utah Utes in extra innings, setting up a Saturday rubber match. With the series on the line, Arizona was looking to start Pac-12 play by taking the first two series of the season. They delivered, taking the game by a final score of 5-4 courtesy of a Katiyana Mauga walk-off home run.

"When she walked up, I for sure thought they were going to walk her," Mike Candrea said after the win. "Crazy weekend, good team. Utah, I think for an unranked team they're pretty darn salty. They played well and they always give us a hard time."

"Yeah, it felt good," Mauga said when asked if she knew the ball was gone. "Once you feel a good swing, you know it's gone. I was just thinking change up, right center, that's what I was thinking. All her pitches were change up so I wasn't trying to do too much."

"We wanted to just go out there and send them home with a loss," she continued. "That's what we were thinking."

After coming in for relief on Friday, Danielle O'Toole was back in the circle. Utah was able to pick up where they left off Friday night, getting the offense going early. A couple of early doubles got Utah on the board with two quick runs. O'Toole was finally able to escape the inning after a great throw from Ashleigh Hughes in center field got the runner at home.

Utah was able to add to their lead with a Shelby Pacheco solo home run, making it a three-run game heading into the bottom of the second. In the third inning, Utah was able to score once again, adding a fourth run to their lead.

Arizona finally got things going in the bottom of the third, after Mauga was able to drive a single into left field to bring Mandie Perez home, giving Arizona their first run of the game and only of the inning.

O'Toole would not make it to the fourth inning, as Mike Candrea went with Nancy Bowling to try and limit the damage. She did just that, holding the Utes to their first scoreless inning of the game through four. Bowling gave Arizona the momentum they needed.

Hillary Edior produced a standup triple that brought home two runs with no outs and Alexis Dotson followed it up with a chopper to bring home Hughes, while successfully getting to first base, tying up the game at four apiece.

Mandie Perez came up with a base hit to advance Dotson, putting Ashleigh Hughes up to bat with no outs. She lined a ball to left field, which would have loaded the bases, but some poor baserunning allowed Utah to come up with a double play. Mauga popped up, ending the threat, and keeping the score tied at four.

Nancy Bowling found herself with the bases loaded and no outs in the 5th, but slowly she chipped away and got herself out unscathed, holding the Utes to their second straight scoreless inning.

She went on to shut Utah out the rest of the game.

"There's just a bunch of adrenaline," Nancy Bowling said about picking up momentum as the game went on.

The Wildcats are now 4-2 in Pac-12 play and 22-10 overall this year. They travel to Washington for a Saturday through Monday series next weekend.