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Arizona softball recap: Katiyana Mauga breaks school home run record as Wildcats top Oregon, 10-7

Arizona clinches the series victory as Mauga makes history

Katiyana Mauga hits the record-setting home run
Jason Bartel

On Friday, Katiyana Mauga tied Arizona’s all-time home run record. On Saturday, it became hers.

The senior third baseman launched her 88th career homer, passing former Wildcat Stacie Chambers, as No. 3 Arizona topped No. 6 Oregon 10-7 at Hillenbrand Stadium.

“There’s no words to describe it,” Mauga said. “It felt like an accomplishment, but I’m glad it’s over.”

Mauga is the only player in NCAA history to hit 20 or more homers in four seasons.

“It’s fabulous to be able to see history be made,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “I’ve seen a lot of it here at Arizona but she is definitely deserving of going down with some of the very best that have played with — with the Laura Espinozas, and the Leah Braatzes, and the Stacie Chambers.”

Katiyana Mauga is the new all-time HR leader for University of Arizona Softball

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mauga’s record-breaking homer was a towering drive to the opposite field, giving Arizona a 7-5 lead in the fourth inning.

“The thing I was excited about is that the homer went to right field, which shows her maturity,” Candrea said. “She’s hitting the ball where it’s pitched. She looks really good at the plate right now. I would hate to have to throw to her.”

Mauga was 3-for-4 on the day with a double and three RBIs, helping the Wildcats win a high-scoring affair and erase an early deficit.

Oregon took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first when Gwen Svekis drove a riseball from Arizona starter Taylor McQuillin off the batter’s eye in center field for a three-run homer.

But that lead was short-lived as Arizona scored six unanswered runs, including five in the second inning.

Ashleigh Hughes tied the game at 3-3 with a two-run single to left, and Reyna Carranco would later score on a fielder’s choice as she avoided a tag on a bang-bang play at the plate to give UA a 4-3 lead.

Mauga then capped off the inning with a two-run double down the left-field line to put UA up 6-3.

“We just really battled well offensively,” said Candrea, whose team tallied 12 hits and five walks in the game.

So did Svekis, who McQuillin couldn’t solve. The Ducks’ catcher homered again in the third inning, this time a two-run shot to cut UA’s lead to 6-5.

Svekis whiffed on a changeup early in the at-bat, but wasn’t fooled the second time as she lifted a deep drive over the left center field wall.

“We were like ‘OK, let’s go outside and come back with the change,’” McQuillin said of her pitch selection, “and the same spot that she missed the changeup, she just sat on it, used all of her legs, and carried it out.

“It wasn’t my day against her.”

McQuillin (15-1) pitched 5 13 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking three.

Five of the six runs were driven in by Svekis.

“You take those two home runs away and she’s cruising,” Candrea said of McQuillin. “But unfortunately that’s kind of the way it goes. We needed her to have a good outing today and she did. … and I wanted her to leave that game on a good note.”

With Arizona leading 8-5 in the sixth, Danielle O’Toole relieved McQuillin after a one-out single.

It didn’t exactly worked as planned.

O’Toole immediately surrendered a two-run homer to UO’s Danica Mercado.

“No pitcher ever wants to be taken out of a game, but I think it was a good call,” McQuillin said. “After seeing a pitcher three times, the fourth time you’re expecting what you’re expecting and it makes it hard on a pitcher to try to get outs when you see someone four times in a game.”

Arizona’s offense added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double by Alyssa Palomino and an RBI single by Carranco.

Carranco was 3-for-4 and tripled in the fifth inning, raising her average to .323 on the season.

“She sits in that eighth spot and just keeps doing it and doing it,” Candrea said of the freshman. “She’s gotten better during conference play. I am very excited the production that she’s giving down there.”

O’Toole tossed a scoreless seventh to record her first save of the season.

Arizona (45-3, 15-2 Pac-12) will go for the sweep of Oregon (37-6, 10-6 Pac-12) on Sunday. First pitch at Hillenbrand Stadium is scheduled for 12 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

It will be Mauga’s first game since breaking UA’s home run record, but she’s not done chasing history.

The senior is eight homers away from being the sport’s all-time home run leader.

“It is a relief,” Mauga said of breaking UA’s record, “but people are still going to ask about the NCAA record.”

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire