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UA sweeps invitational, improves to 21-0

CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA shortstop Kristie Fox covers second as Stanford's Lauren Lappin slides in during Arizona's 7-5 win yesterday in the Worth Wildcat Invitational Tournament's championship game.
By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, March 1, 2004
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The UA softball team got its first scare this weekend against No. 7 Stanford in the Worth Wildcat Invitational, but won 7-5 to win the tourney and bring its unbeaten streak to 21 games.

Sophomore utility player Shelly Schultz hit a two-run home run her sixth of the season with two outs in the sixth inning to give the Wildcats the victory. Schultz was instrumental in getting the bats heated up for the Wildcats in the fourth inning with her first homer of the game a solo shot.

Until Schultz's first jack, the Wildcats had just two hits in the first three innings. Junior third baseman Jackie Coburn was the second half of back-to-back homers in the fourth with her own solo shot. The Wildcats rattled off four straight hits, but left the inning with the bases loaded.

"It was absolutely amazing," said Schultz of her two-homer effort. "Someone on this team always gets something started. I was just glad it was me today."

Sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell was not quite herself in this game, giving up five earned runs on five hits, but struck out nine and walked two.

Most of the Cardinal's runs came much like the Wildcats' did: by way of the long ball. In the second inning, Meghan Sickler hit a solo homer to give Stanford a 2-0 lead. In the sixth, Jessica Allister's three-run shot gave Stanford a 5-4 advantage.

"Stanford has better pitching than anyone we've faced, and (it has) better hitting one through nine than any ranked team we've faced all season," said UA interim head coach Larry Ray. "That's going to happen in the Pac-10. Sometimes we are going to be down. But this team is showing the heart of a lion."

The Wildcats advanced to the championship game of their own tournament by beating Boston University 17-1 in five innings on Friday.

The Wildcats' bats went crazy in this game, which was over after an 11-run, 10-hit, and three-homer first inning. Led by senior shortstop and catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest, who had two homers in the game, the Wildcats went yard a school-record seven times.

The run scored by the Terriers was unearned for UA pitcher Leslie Wolfe, as Jaime Haas reached on an error in the third inning and eventually scored off a single. Wolfe pitched a complete game, giving up six hits and one walk while striking out five.

Stanford and the UA met up for the first time in the tourney Friday night, and it was just as competitive as the championship game. The UA came out on top 2-1.

Hollowell enjoyed a 1-0 lead for most of the game until Sickler led off the seventh with a solo home run to tie the score.

In the Wildcats' half of the inning, junior outfielder Crystal Farley hit a two-out single. Freshman outfielder Caitlin Lowe drew a walk, as did sophomore outfielder Autumn Champion. Stanford pitcher Laura Severson then walked senior designated player Wendy Allen to walk in the winning run.

In the third inning, Lowe reached first base on an infield error and eventually scored off Allen's sacrifice fly to centerfield.

Oklahoma State was shut out by the Wildcats 4-0 Saturday. Hollowell was near perfect as she struck out 17 batters and gave up one hit her only baserunner of the game.

Coburn led the offense, smashing a two-run homer in the first inning.

The Wildcats beat South Florida 2-1 in the second game of Saturday's action. Allen went the distance to keep the game out of reach for the Bulls, striking out six and giving up five hits. Fox scored the winning run in the fourth inning off a single by junior Candace Abrams.

Abrams also came through with a double in the championship game against Stanford to tie the game at 5.

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