The Arizona softball team wrapped up the Wildcat Invitational on Sunday beating North Dakota State and Boston College in a doubleheader on a rainy day at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The pair of victories improve the Wildcats’ record to 11-0 on the season, and they have outscored opponents 97-10 so far this season.
The last time Arizona started 11-0 was 2006 when the Wildcats would go on to win a National Championship.
Here are the recaps for the two games from Sunday:
Dejah Mulipola went 3-for-3 and drove in two runs as the Arizona softball team squeaked past North Dakota State 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The freshman catcher hit a two-run homer in the first inning, scoring the Wildcats’ only two runs of the game. It was the start of an incredible day for Mulipola (see recap No. 2 below for more on that).
Danielle O’Toole (6-0) went the distance for Arizona, tossing seven innings and allowing one run and four hits, while striking out seven.
The Bison’s lone run was via a solo homer by shortstop Montana DeCamp.
The two teams combined for just nine hits, with the Wildcats being responsible for five of them.
NDSU did not get a runner into scoring position all game, while the Wildcats stranded two runners in the sixth inning.
DeCamp’s solo homer was just the second earned run O’Toole has given up this season. The redshirt senior’s ERA sits at 0.47.
This game represented the first time Arizona won by fewer than four runs, and it was also its lowest scoring output of the season.
Jacquelyn Sertic (2-6) pitched a complete game for the Bison, allowing five hits, three runs, and two walks while tallying five punchouts in six innings.
Of the 18 outs Sertic recorded, only one of them was a groundout.
“That pitcher is a good little pitcher,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said of Sertic. “We have to tip our hat to her. It was interesting because I was looking at this game and thinking ‘we haven’t even had a groundball out.’ Until the last out. Everything else was in the air or the ground balls we hit were base hits.
“So that just completely goes away from what we’re trying to do with a riseball pitcher, and that’s to try to stay on top and hit groundballs. In that regard, I think it was a good lesson for us and it was good game to go through. [NDSU is] a good team that will probably resurface in the postseason.”
The first game of the day was a pitcher’s dual, but the second game was anything but. Arizona knocked off Boston College 12-2 in five innings to close out the Wildcat Invitational.
“We came back and swung the bats,” said Candrea, whose team tallied 10 hits.
The Eagles took an early lead, but it was all Wildcats from there.
Boston College scored two runs in the top of the first against UA left-hander Taylor McQuillin, thanks to an RBI double by Jordan Chimento and a two-out RBI single by Annie Murphy.
McQuillin was able to stop the bleeding, getting a popout to strand two runners to end the inning before being relieved by Nancy Bowling to start the second inning.
Arizona responded by plating eight runs in its half of the first.
The Wildcats drew four walks in the frame, and Dejah Mulipola kicked off the scoring frenzy with a two-run homer to tie the game.
Then, after loading the bases, Tamara Statman singled to left to put UA on top 3-2. Ashleigh Hughes and Mandie Perez walked to bring home two more runs, then Mulipola (who else?) cleared the bases with a three-run double, extending Arizona’s lead to 8-2.
“Today I was just trying to be extra relaxed,” said Mulipola, who said she has been anxious at the plate. “I realize I’m very productive when I’m calm, so I’m trying to be consistent with that.”
Mulipola was 5-for-5 on the day with two homers, a double and eight RBIs. The freshman leads Arizona in batting average (.621) and is third on the team in RBIs (14). She also picked off a runner at first against NDSU for the first time this season.
“Right now, I think she’s looking for a good pitch and putting a good swing on it,” Candrea said. “When you’re swinging the bat well, it’s like magnet. When you’re not swinging it well, it’s like you have a hole in it. Right now she has a big magnet and everything she’s hitting, she’s hitting hard.”
Sunday was Mulipola’s birthday, too.
“Happy birthday,” Candrea said. “I wish she had a birthday everyday. She had a hell of a day.”
Mulipola’s final RBI of the day was a sacrifice fly in the third inning to make it 9-2, then Katiyana Mauga homered to left center to increase UA’s lead to 10-2 in the fourth.
It was the 73rd career homer for Mauga, placing her 14 homers shy of tying the UA’s all-time home run record and 22 shy of tying the NCAA all-time record.
Mauga was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two walks on the day.
“I was very happy with [Mauga],” Candrea said. “Great patience, great approach, wasn’t forcing things.”
Later in the fourth, freshman Malia Martinez picked up her first career hit and RBIs with a two-run double to right, putting the Wildcats up 12-2 and in position for the run rule.
Bowling kept the lead intact.
The fifth-year senior pitched four scoreless frames, retiring 12 of the 15 batters she faced, picking up her second win of the season.
She did get into some trouble in the fifth inning, as she gave up a single and a walk, but eventually escaped the jam unscathed.
“I did okay, I could’ve done better,” Bowling said. “That last inning, if I could redo it, that would be great.”
Candrea said Bowling entered in the second inning because McQuillin was experiencing arm soreness.
“She’s all right,” Candrea said after the game. “She’s got a little soreness that we don’t want to mess with. ... And we have Nancy sitting there who needs some innings, so it was a good opportunity for Nancy to come in.”
Bowling’s ERA is 1.00 on the season. McQuillin’s is 1.84.
In the first inning of the second game, an errant pitch from BC’s Jessica Dreswick struck UA left fielder Mandie Perez in the face.
Perez was down on the ground for a few minutes as trainers attended to her, but she would get up and stay in the game.
“Mandie’s just a bulldog,” Candrea said. “You would have to do more than hit her. ... She’s a tough kid.
“I was thinking that maybe she would drill one out of the ballpark (in her next at-bat). That’s just the way Mandie is. You don’t want to get her excited, that’s for sure. She’s a fighter.”
Perez has been a catalyst atop the Wildcats’ lineup this season, hitting .424 in the leadoff spot.
The Wildcats return to action next Thursday when they will begin the Mary Nutter Invitational in Palm Springs, Calif.
Arizona will play five games in three days, with its opponents being Louisville, BYU, Purdue, LIU Brooklyn, and No. 3 Florida State.
“Now we’re going on the road and that’s where you gotta win,” Candrea said. “That’ll be a very good test for us. We’ll be playing some very good teams. Being on the road and those crappy fields, it’ll be a challenge for us.”
The Wildcats will have Monday off, then practice Tuesday before the bus ride to Palm Springs on Wednesday.
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