TUCSON – Seniors Estela Piñon and Kenzie Fowler combined to allow just one Utah hit while receiving seven runs of support in Arizona’s series-opening 7-1 victory over the Utes Friday night at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Piñon was brilliant in her six innings of work, allowing just one hit, a two out single in the fourth, and striking out five and walking seven in the process. Her one run surrendered was unearned. The Tucson native improved to 14-5 on the year with the victory. Fowler struck out two of the three batters she faced in the seventh.
After scoring five early runs, Arizona’s bats went quiet, registering just two hits after the second inning. That was until Chelsea Goodacre stepped to the plate with two outs in the sixth. The junior, who had already had a run-scoring double in the contest, took a 1-1 pitch very, very deep to right field. The ball landed on top of Gittings Gym, a three-story structure located about 40 feet beyond the right field fence. Postgame, head coach Mike Candrea called the homer the longest he had ever seen at Hillenbrand Stadium. Goodacre joins elite company, becoming the fifth player ever to hit a home run on top of Gittings Gym.
Goodacre went 2-for-2 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored to lead the offense while Kelsey Rodriguez, who went 3-for-3, and Katiyana Mauga, 2-for-4, drove in two runs apiece.
Arizona (37-9, 10-6 Pac-12) got off to a hot start, plating two runs, both with two out, in the bottom of the first. After Hallie Wilson walked and Kelsey Rodriguez singled, Goodacre doubled in Arizona’s first run before Mauga beat out an infield single to give the Cats a 2-0 lead after one.
UA was right back at it in the second. Courtney Rodriguez and Alex Lavine, starting her first game since tearing her ACL on March 4, singled to start the inning and moved to third and second, respectively, on a wild pitch. Kelsey Rodriguez hit her first of two doubles, giving her the Pac-12 lead with 17 two-baggers, scoring Courtney Rodriguez and Lavine. Kelsey Rodriguez would then score on Mauga’s second RBI single of the game to make it 5-0.
Utah (23-22, 5-13 Pac-12) got a run back in the third, plating an unearned run thanks to a throwing error by Piñon on a sacrifice attempt. The Wildcat pitcher got out of a runners-on-the-corners, no-one-out jam in the frame to limit the damage to just the single run.
After three innings of one-hit ball, Arizona reignited the bats in the sixth. Wilson led off the frame with a bunt single and, after Utah pitcher Sammy Cordova (8-7) retired the next two batters, Goodacre hit the home run to give UA a 7-1 lead.
Arizona and Utah continue the series Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium at 6:00 p.m. PDT.