By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
After almost a month on the road, the UA softball team made it obvious that they enjoyed being back home this past weekend.
They showed they still had it in them to beat up on opponents.
The No. 2 Wildcats wrapped up their weekend sweep by holding off 10th-ranked Cal 4-2 and 6-1 Saturday night before 1,722 at Hillenbrand Stadium.
"This is just what the doctor ordered," UA coach Mike Candrea said. "We played the type of ball we needed to play."
Indeed. The Wildcats (43-4 overall, 9-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference) were frustrated after losing three of four the previous weekend in California and needed another strong weekend to jump start their turnaround.
They got just that.
In Saturday's games, two UA players came through twice to give the Wildcats a pair of wins that dethroned the Golden Bears from the top of the conference. Arizona is now tied with Cal for second place behind No. 1 UCLA.
To beat Cal (22-11, 12-2), the old as well as the new came up with the big hits when Arizona needed them.
The first game was tied at two entering the bottom of the fifth inning when second baseman Jenny Dalton put the Wildcats ahead with a homer to the center field bleachers.
Four batters later, freshman left fielder Alison Johnsen added an insurance run with an RBI single to give Arizona the 4-2 edge.
Then after the first two batters reached safely in the top of the seventh, Carrie Dolan (22-1) held on for the win by retiring three straight.
"I needed to get my head back in the right spot," Dalton said of her turnaround from a week ago. "After the UCLA weekend, my head wasn't ready to be at the plate. This weekend helped me get things back in perspective."
The two teamed up again to bring in runs the second time around.
Dalton hit her 20th home run of the year on a three-run shot in the first inning of the second game.
That would be all Arizona needed, but Johnsen again came up big with a three-run triple to the gap in left-center field.
Nancy Evans (19-3) picked up the win in the nightcap.
It was a remarkable night for Johnsen, who not only came through at the plate but provided a lunging grab to spear the evening's final out.
"That was big for her. She's a good player and she needs a little confidence at the plate. It will help her down the road," Candrea said. "Usually when a team is going good, it's not one person carrying the team. Everyone's coming through at different times and you saw a little of that tonight."
Friday night saw Arizona take care of Stanford 25-0 and 7-1, but it was a night that will forever be memorable to one UA player.
Junior third baseman Krista Gomez would have probably considered three singles in the second inning of Friday's first game
the highlight of her evening.
But after the final out of the night was recorded, it went from unreal to unforgettable.
Her boyfriend Sean Doyle had his friends sitting in the left-field bleachers hold up a sign that read "Krista, Will U Marry Me?"
She sprinted down the left-field line and into Doyle's arms. It was a yes.
For Candrea, he was able to relish the fact that he could take a much-needed day off yesterday after an extremely trying week of working to get his team back on track.
"It seems like I talked so much last week that I'm at a loss for words," he said after Saturday's games.
Still, there is little time to rest. The team will arrive in Fresno, Calif., today for a doubleheader against Fresno State tomorrow afternoon. They will then play Arizona State home and then away this weekend.
But the four wins Arizona picked up this weekend kept alive their chance to finish the season on the top of what is arguably the nation's toughest conference.
"We just knew it would be good game and we had to come out and battle," Dalton said. "This was a good positive step on the road to success."
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