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Softball scores early, holds off ASU at home

KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Outfielder Caitlin Lowe fouls off a pitch during last night's game against ASU. Arizona's next home game is tomorrow night at 7 against Cal.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 29, 2004
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Well, a win is a win.

The No. 1 Arizona softball team swept the season series from Pac-10 cellar-dweller Arizona State with a 3-1 win last night, but took a full game to do it.

The Wildcats (46-2, 10-1 Pacific 10 Conference) had outscored the Sun Devils 14-0 in the two previous matchups.

"It is not that we weren't playing well," UA acting head coach Larry Ray said. "Right now, we're in a kind of mini-slump and for some players, it is nothing more than being able to get a key hit at the right time. Right now, we've got some kids that are pressing and we need to relax a little bit."

UA sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell (33-1) threw a two-hitter. ASU (31-24, 1-10) All-America senior third baseman Phelan Wright got the Sun Devils' run with a solo home run to lead off the second that went off the glove of sophomore left fielder Autumn Champion.

"Winning any game is important once we are in the Pac-10 and get into the post season, so we're out to win," Hollowell said.

Ray said that the Wildcats looked a little lax because of the drain of playing so many games. He said it wouldn't have been the same if they were playing their true rival, UCLA.

"If you put royal blue and gold on that team, I tell you what, you'll see a different feel," Ray said.

"We just learned that we played a lot of games and have a lot more to play and need to keep our heads screwed on and come out ready to go," Hollowell said.

Freshman center fielder Caitlin Lowe led the way for the Wildcats, scoring two runs and nabbing two bases, while junior right fielder Crystal Farley went 3-for-3. Lowe led the game off with a single, stole second and was driven in by senior utility player Wendy Allen.

Allen was driven in by junior designated player Allyson Von Liechtenstein to give the UA an early 2-0 lead. After drawing a walk and stealing second, Lowe scored in the second off a single by Allen.

Sophomore Sun Devil Desiree Serrano (15-8) came in and stymied the Wildcats a bit - allowing just three hits and no runs - after Arizona knocked junior starter Bre De Santa (9-10) after 1 2/3 innings.

"Desiree's a good pitcher and it was a little different than what we saw," Ray said. "I think it could have definitely been a shortened ballgame, but Desiree came in and did a very nice job."

Hollowell struck out nine and moved into a tie for sixth-most wins in UA history.

The Wildcats stranded eight runners and went 2-on-4 on steals, but Ray pledged to stay aggressive on the base paths. After Arizona ran wild on senior catcher Katie Cobos earlier in the season, ASU responded with freshman Heidi Knabe yesterday.

"We just ran on Cobos big time. I don't think we'll ever see her again," Ray said. "(Knabe) throws pretty well, but we're going to continue being aggressive. We need to because we are not hitting on all cylinders."

The UA returns to action this weekend when it hosts No. 4 California and No. 9 Stanford.

Despite a recent loss to new No. 11 Oregon, the Wildcats remained the unanimous No. 1 in both polls ... Former UA star Jennie Finch will appear on the "Late Show with David Letterman" tonight ... A moment of silence was held before the game for former Sun Devil football player Pat Tillman and the other U.S. soldiers who have died.

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