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Late game heroics give 'Cats victory over ASU

Photo
WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona senior shortstop Lovie Jung looks to throw home after an Arizona State baserunner overran third base during the Wildcats 4-2 victory over the Sun Devils last night in Tempe.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 24, 2003

Vandergeest's bat comes alive to bury Sun Devils again

Tempe, Ariz. ÷÷ After seeing senior shortstop Lovie Jung was intentionally walked for a fourth time, junior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest licked her lips and preceded to punish Arizona State with a two run double in the seventh to lift the UA softball team to 4-2 win at ASU.

No. 1 Arizona (42-4, 11-1) swept the regular season series with No. 12 ASU (28-15, 5-6 Pac-10) thanks to Vandergeest's four RBIs, highlighted by the game-winning hit. Down 0-2 in the count with two out, Vandergeest hit a two-run double, scoring sophomore outfielder Courtney Fossatti and Jung.

The Sun Devils walked Jung seven straight at-bats going back to the Wildcats' 2-1 win Sunday. On Friday, in Arizona's 8-0 home win, Jung hit a three-run homer when the Sun Devils decided to pitch to her.

"I would have walked her too," Vandergeest said.

Vandergeest, whose bat had been slow of late, broke out of her slump in a big way, driving in all four UA runs. She broke a string of four straight hitless games and was batting a team low .252 going into the game.

Vandergeest said she was very relieved at her play.

"Oh, I took a deep breath that whole game," Vandergeest said. "If you watch me I'm talking to myself the whole time; actually physically talking to myself."

Vandergeest attributed her woes at the plate to being a mental thing, which she remedied with positive reinforcement to herself. Needless to say she wasn't the only relieved one.

"I thought it was just a great night for Mac," head coach Mike Candrea said. "I mean obviously we know the strategy and like I told the kids, we need Mac and Jackie (Coburn) to step up. Tonight Mac did a great job and (ASU) put us in some RBI situations and (we) cashed in on it. I think it will be a springboard to get some of that confidence back."

The Wildcats took an early lead in the first, with Fossatti scoring on a Vandergeest sacrifice. ASU responded quickly with a run in the bottom of the first.

"We made a few mistakes but my hat goes off to Arizona State, I thought they played hard and played well," Candrea said. "It was a good ball game."

In the top of the third, UA struck again off a single by Vandergeest, which drove in Fossatti a second time.

Freshman pitcher Alicia Hollowell (29-3), the reigning Pac-10 pitcher of the week, rebounded after a first inning in which she gave up a single, a walk, threw a wild pitch and then surrendered a run on a sacrificed fly. After giving up a solo home run to junior All-American, third baseman Phelan Wright which knotted the game at two, and Hollowell responded with two straight strikeouts.

"I thought Alicia has done well all year, she's got a great mindset and she's a very composed pitcher," Candrea said. ╬Obviously throughout the year I've been waiting to see the screws come apart, but it hasn't happened."

In addition to the win, it was a memorable night for Candrea as well. Some of his old mentors were also in attendance, including his sixth grade teacher and grade school P.E. teacher, whom he hadn't seen since eighth grade. They carried class pictures of Candrea with them along with pictures of him getting his first trophy.

"It was so good to see them," Candrea said.

At 1,579, the turnout was the second largest home crowd in ASU history. It was a raucous crowd as well, with about half supporting ASU and half cheering on Arizona.

The UA squad leaves today for Oregon, as they prepare to take on the Ducks in Eugene on tomorrow followed by Oregon State on Saturday and Sunday.


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