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Monday March 19, 2001

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Softball loses first games of season

By Brett Erickson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wildcats go 6-2 during break, fall in quarterfinals of Kia Klassic

It was bound to happen sometime, and the Arizona softball team is just happy it was sooner rather than later.

The No. 2 Wildcats, who began the season 31-0 after three wins early last week, dropped two games at the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif. Arizona fell to unranked Louisiana-Lafayette 4-3 Thursday and Texas 2-1 Saturday morning.

The latter loss knocked the Wildcats (34-2) out of the championship bracket of the tournament in the quarterfinal round.

"They're disappointed, and they're not happy, so this is a time for them to refocus," assistant coach Nancy Evans said yesterday before the team headed back to Tucson. "It's better now than in conference play."

In Saturday's game against Texas, the Wildcats outhit the Longhorns seven to two, but couldn't capitalize with runners in scoring position.

Texas scored the game's first run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a throwing error by senior left fielder Nicole Giordano.

Trailing 1-0 in the final inning, freshman pitcher Jenny Gladding tied the game with a leadoff home run. Gladding, though, could not hold the lead in the bottom of the inning, as she surrendered a long ball to Deeanne Williams with no outs.

Arizona had runners in scoring position in every inning but the fifth, but couldn't break through against Texas' Charla Moore.

"We just couldn't get the key hit when we needed," Evans said.

Arizona defeated Texas 14-0 earlier this season at the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Phoenix.

Earlier last week, Arizona suffered its first loss of the season Thursday to Louisiana-Lafayette during pool play of the Kia Klassic. Senior Becky Lemke took the loss for Arizona, as she allowed four runs and three hits in the loss.

Arizona's three wins at the Kia Klassic came against UNLV (10-0), No. 24 Cal State Northridge (6-0) and North Carolina (6-1).

Lemke's loss to Louisiana-Lafayette overshadowed her performance Tuesday against San Diego, where the senior became just the third pitcher in UA history to toss a perfect game in the Wildcats' 9-0 win.

The Wildcats resume play Friday with the first of two games against Utah. First pitch is at 7 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium.