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Arizona softball: Katiyana Mauga inching closer to NCAA all-time home run record

You wouldn’t be able to tell by Mauga’s demeanor, though

Katiyana Mauga
Photo by Jason Bartel

Katiyana Mauga etched her name in the record books yet again on Saturday but, as usual, the occasion didn’t generate much fanfare.

Mauga homered in Arizona’s 5-0 win over South Carolina, the 91st of her career, becoming the Pac-12’s new all-time home run leader — though most of her teammates probably weren’t aware until the feat was announced over the loud speaker.

“Because of how nonchalant she is about it, I think it’s hard to remember (the records),” left fielder Mandie Perez said. “But when we hear it over the intercom, we’re like ‘no way!’

“But it’s just phenomenal to see how calm she can be with these great stats and to be honest, we’re just trying to help her out to get even better stats. We’re trying to get on base so she can double those stats, triple those stats.”

Mauga has 24 homers this season and is four long balls shy of tying the NCAA’s all-time home run record held by former Oklahoma Sooner Lauren Chamberlain.

Mauga has homered in both of UA’s postseason games and has upped her batting average to .350 after it had dipped below .300 at the start of Pac-12 play in late March.

“She’s looked more comfortable,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “She kinda found a stance that she really liked. If you notice, her bat’s on her shoulder a little bit closer to her.”

Mauga appears to peaking at the right time, as her adjustments have made her more efficient at the plate.

“And then when she’s hitting pitches where the ball’s pitched instead of trying to force things, she’s a great hitter,” Candrea said. “I think she’s kinda simplified things and it’s worked for her.”

And with the way Mauga is swinging the bat lately, she has a good chance to tie or pass Chamberlain if the Wildcats advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.

Not that Mauga would make too much of it.

Not the only one

Calmness is evidently a common trait among Arizona’s star players. When Mauga breaks a record, she makes little of it.

The same is true when ace Danielle O’Toole is nearing a no-hitter or finds herself in a jam — and it bleeds into the rest of the team.

“We just build off her calmness more than anything,” Perez said.

Here’s an example: On Saturday against South Carolina, the Wildcats only manufactured one run through the first four innings, stranding the bases loaded twice.

They didn’t panic, though. They knew O’Toole, who wound up throwing a one-hit shutout, would keep them in the game.

“I think it just makes us a little more calm at the plate,” Perez said. “We know that if she’s doing her job and not we’re coming through right away, we know that she’s going to hold us down in the circle.”

Eventually, the Wildcats exploded for four runs in the fifth to give O’Toole a 5-0 cushion.

Which could explain O’Toole’s calm demeanor. She knows it’s only a matter of time before her supporting cast breaks through.

“We have her back too,” Perez said.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire