The only ball off Katiyana Mauga‘s bat that didn’t fly over the fence on Sunday probably would have if it wasn’t for a spectacular defensive play.
Stanford left fielder Hannah Howell made a leaping catch at the left-field wall, robbing Mauga of what would have been her third home run of the day.
“I thought it was going to go over ... but I know I got jammed a little,” Mauga said. “It was a great catch.”
Mauga lined a three-run homer to right in the first inning, then launched a two-run homer to center field in the third inning, tallying five RBIs on the day.
“I think I’m getting back to where I need to be and that’s definitely helping the team and I’m happy to help the team,” she said.
Mauga hit four homers in the three-game series, giving her 16 on the season and 83 in her career, placing her four homers shy of tying the UA’s all-time record.
Two weeks ago, Mauga was in a 1-for-15 slump, but she has broken out of it, racking up six homers and 11 hits in the last seven games.
“Kati has gotten much better swings,” said UA head coach Mike Candrea. “She squared her stance up and she’s just staying on plane a lot longer and hitting the ball where it’s pitched. She looks really good. If you watch her take batting practice, you can see right off the bat that she’s staying through the zone a long time and hitting the ball hard.
“But we got a few people like that and that’s the nice part of this lineup. If it’s not one, it’s someone else that’s stepping up.”
Indeed. In addition to Mauga’s pair of homers, Jessie Harper and Mo Mercado hit back-to-back homers in bottom of the fifth to extend UA’s lead to 9-1, completing the run-rule to give Arizona its 25th win in a row.
It capped off a weekend in which the Wildcats, who lead the nation in homers, hit 15 home runs in a three-game span.
“This is crazy,” said Harper, who has 15 homers this season. “Just to see how many home runs we had this weekend that was unbelievable to me. I don’t think I’ve seen that many home runs. I was telling our coach that every time I got back in the dugout, we had to run back out there again.”
Arizona outscored Stanford 41-2 in the series, improving to 40-1 overall and 12-0 in Pac-12 play.
“I look at this team and you look at this lineup and it’s a pretty salty lineup from top to bottom,” Candrea said. “There’s a lot of different people that can make things happen.”
The Wildcats’ pitching continues to dominate, too.
Danielle O’Toole (21-1) allowed one run on two hits in four innings, while Taylor McQuillin pitched a scoreless frame in the fifth.
The Wildcats have not allowed more than two runs in a game since March 19 when they beat Oregon State in extra innings in Corvallis.
O’Toole has a 0.78 ERA in 139.1 innings this season, while McQuillin has posted an 0.65 ERA in 74.2 innings
“It was a good weekend,” Candrea said. “Time to move on, move forward. We got some challenging weekends ahead of us and I think that’s what it’s all about is how you finish.”
The Wildcats return to action Thursday when they will head to Salt Lake City to take on the No. 15 Utah Utes (26-7, 8-2 Pac-12).
Arizona will be attempting to win its 26th-straight game.
“Everyone one through nine is working,” Harper said. “Our dugout is live. You can hear them cheering. They have awesome cheers to keep us pumped up, but I think we’re all on a good run right now and I’m excited to see what’s coming up this week.”
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