Stanford can't match UA freshman pitcher
Eric M. Jukelevics
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sophomore second baseman Katie Swan (5) throws to first after tagging out the Cal runner Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona defeated the Golden Bears 3-2 in the second game of the doubleheader after losing 4-2 in the first game and then swept Stanford 3-2, 2-0 Saturday night.
Tough defense and even tougher pitching marked both of the Arizona softball team's victories Saturday night over No. 10 Stanford at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Sophomore center fielder Nicole Giordano had the game winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh in game one while freshman pitcher Jennie Finch threw a five-hit shutout in game two to lead the Wildcats (37-9 overall, 9-5 Pacific 10 Conference) to 3-2, 2-0 sweep of the Cardinal (32-15, 4-10).
UA head coach Mike Candrea said Finch's performance was the key.
"It was big for her to come out and shut them down tonight," he said. "And she swung the bat very well so it was a double plus."
In game one, Stanford was able to strike in the top of the third after a leadoff single by center fielder Jessica Mendoza and a walk by first baseman Sarah Beeson. After UA first baseman Finch's throw to second for the force-out was late, the bases were loaded and Stanford pitcher Marcy Crouch knocked in Mendoza on a ground-out. On the next play Finch's errant throw to third baseman Toni Mascarenas allowed Stanford to take a 2-0 lead.
Arizona evened the score in the bottom of the fifth after a solo home run by sophomore catcher Lindsay Collins, and sophomore left fielder Lauren Bauer was able to turn a bunt single into a trip around the bases after Stanford catcher Kellie Wiginton overthrew first base.
Stanford threatened again in the top of the seventh with bases loaded and one out, but a force-out at the plate and a strikeout by UA sophomore pitcher Becky Lemke ended the threat. In the bottom of the seventh Finch singled, sophomore designated hitter Erika Hanson reached base on an error and Bauer was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs. Giordano then hit a single over the third basemen's head to give UA the win.
Game two was scoreless until two walks to Hanson and Bauer and a single by Giordano allowed Mascarenas' ground-out to score Hanson.
With Finch's pitching, it would be the only run the Wildcats would need. Finch allowed only five hits and no runs to put her record at 17-4 for the season. She gave herself insurance in the bottom of the sixth with her third home run of the season, a solo shot.
She was also helped by the amazing defensive play of Bauer. On two separate occasions the sophomore climbed the left field fence to save home runs. Both earned her a standing ovation from the crowd.
Arizona split its doubleheader with No. 13 California (32-13, 3-8) Friday night. The Wildcats lost the opener 4-2 as Golden Bears' designated hitter Holly Yost hit a two-run homer off Lemke (20-5). UA bounced back behind Finch in the second game as she had a two RBI single and held the Bears to two runs on 10 hits for a 3-2 win.
Bauer said after this weekend that no Pac-10 teams can be overlooked.
"The Pac-10 is so talented, every team is good, but every team is beatable," she said. "We just have to be ready to play."
Joshua McClain can be reached at Joshua.McClain@wildcat.arizona.edu.