TUCSON--The No. 2-ranked Arizona softball team gets some needed rest after a flurry of action on the road last week which saw the team's 34-game winning streak end in the championship game of the Kia Klassic against No. 1 Washington.
Still, the Cats went 8-1 and should remain in the nation's top three.
UA swept a doubleheader at No. 7 Fresno State on Tuesday, beating the Bulldogs 2-0 and 3-1 with a two-hitter by Becky Lemke and a 10-inning effort by Jennie Finch, respectively.
At the Kia tournament March 16-19 on the Cal State Fullerton campus, Arizona swept through pool play in beating Louisiana-Monroe 3-1, host and No. 9 Fullerton 6-0 and No. 22 Hawai'i 1-0. Lemke threw a one-hitter against Fullerton. Lauren Bauer's eighth-inning single drove in pinch-runner Lisha Ribellia in the close shutout against Hawai'i.
In elimination rounds, on Saturday the Wildcats beat Nevada-Las Vegas 4-0 behind an RBI single by Toni Mascarenas, a two-run single by Bauer and a run-scoring hit by Finch, who two-hit the Rebels.
That afternoon Lemke came back with a one-hitter against Cal State Northridge, striking out 10 in a 6-0 victory. UA scored two unearned runs through five innings then broke loose with a four-run sixth keyed by run-scoring hits by Finch, Erika Hanson, Katie Swan and Mascarenas.
UA faced an unheralded but strong 18-5 Notre Dame team in a Sunday semi-final and the Cats beat the Irish 6-3. Lindsey Collins and Chrissy Gil each hit three-run home runs to pace Arizona.
The top-ranked Huskies showed why in the Kia title game Sunday afternoon, beating Arizona 6-1 as Arizona stranded eight runners. UW tagged Lemke were her second loss of the season and snapped Arizona's winning streak at 34 games -- dating to a 1-0 loss to Washington in Tucson on Feb. 5 in the Cats' Arizona Softball Classic tournament.
After playing on the road through the school's Spring Break, coach Mike Candrea gave his players three days off before resuming practice for next Tuesday's doubleheader in Tucson against New Mexico State and the club's Pac-10 openers Friday through Sunday, March 31 - April 2.
After the games against the Aggies, UA plays the new single-game league action over the weekend, meeting Oregon on Friday (March 31), and Oregon State on Saturday and Sunday. In the offseason the league voted to drop the 28-game home-and-home doubleheader series which had been in effect since the early 1990s and move to a 21-game schedule involving single games. (On the later road trip to the state of Oregon the Cats will play Oregon State once and Oregon twice.)