The Arizona Wildcats were looking for vengeance going up against No. 9 James Madison. The two met in the Wildcat Invitational this past Sunday, with the Dukes coming out on top with a 4-2 win. Miscues on defense and a lack of offense doomed Arizona, as they went scoreless for the final six innings of the game.
It didn't go much better on Wednesday, with the Wildcats losing by a score of 6-1.
Taylor McQuillin got the start on Sunday, getting some much-needed big game experience as a true freshman, which gave Danielle O'Toole some rest, giving her a fresh arm for Wednesday's contest.
Things did not start out so great for the Wildcats this time. James Madison was able to string together a couple of hits, four in the first five batters, taking advantage of more defensive miscues by Arizona. The Dukes came out of the first frame with four runs, all unearned.
Arizona was able to respond by loading the bases in the bottom of the first, with freshman Tamara Statman coming up to bat with two outs. The ball came soaring off her bat, but was caught just shy of the left field warning track.
Arizona couldn't get much going throughout the night and Danielle O'Toole was unable to tame the Dukes. There wasn't much going on from either side until the fifth inning, where Morgan Tolle belted a two run shot to left-center field, extending James Madison's lead to six runs. The Dukes were able to load the bases with only one out, but O'Toole was able to stop the bleeding and escape the inning.
Entering the sixth inning, junior pitcher Michelle Floyd came in to relieve O'Toole and got through the inning unscathed. After flirting with the warning track in her previous two at-bats, Tamara Statman gave the Wildcats some life with a solo shot to center field, going 232 feet. That would result in Arizona's lone run of the night, making it a 6-1 final for James Madison.
"I think it's just not being ready," head coach Mike Candrea said after the loss. "The first inning killed us. You can't afford to give up four runs to a team like this and expect to come back. Especially this team, because this team is not, you know, our offensive productivity is not at a point where we can allow teams to have a four-run margin."
"We got outplayed on the mound, we got outplayed offensively, we got outplayed defensively. We just got beat by a better team tonight."
Defensive miscues plagued the Wildcats early. O'Toole was able to pitch a solid game, but the defense behind her couldn't give her the help she needed.
"A little bit confused, to be honest with you," O'Toole said about her feelings after the game. "If you count their hits, there were probably four good ones and the rest just happened to fall into place where they needed to."
"You have to," O'Toole said when asked about trusting the defense behind her. "There's no other option. I know everyone else wants to hold their breath when someone hits a ground ball but you can't do that. You have to believe in each other and so I do."
Arizona drops to 15-8 on the season and will head to The Lone Star State this weekend for the Texas-Arlington Tournament, where they will take on Samford, Texas and Texas-Arlington, with the latter two both receiving votes in the latest top 25 poll. After that, they'll take on Arizona State March 18-20th in Tempe to open Pac-12 play.