Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
No. 4 Softball Loses 10-Inning Heart Breaker to No. 9 Arizona State
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 16, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Related Links

TEMPE, Ariz. ?- The No. 4 Arizona softball team (31-7, 2-4) fell to No. 9 Arizona State (39-5, 3-2), 4-2, in 10 innings on a windy Friday night at Farrington Stadium that saw gusts of wind up to 35 mph.


Alicia Hollowell (16-3) had a shutout going into the top of the seventh, until she gave up a pinch-hit, two-run homer.  Another two-run Sun Devil blast sealed the Wildcats’ fate.  ASU starter Katie Burkhart (18-3) recorded 22 strikeouts in the victory.


Arizona drew first blood right off the bat in the top of the first with a two-run home run off the bat of Kristie Fox.  Fox’s seventh blast of the year drove in Autumn Champion, who had reached via throwing error one batter prior.


After Fox’s long ball, neither team recorded a hit until ASU’s Heidi Knabe reached on an infield single in the bottom of the third.  Himmita Hixon, who ran for Knabe, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, but that would be as far as any Sun Devil got all night.


UA tried to put together a rally in the top of the sixth, when Kristie Fox led off the inning with Arizona’s third hit batter of the game.  Kelly Nelson ran for Fox and advanced to second on a Callista Balko sacrifice bunt, but did not get any farther than that.


The Sun Devils scored their first runs in the bottom of the seventh on a pinch hit, two-run homer by Sharee Zaleski to tie the game.


With a tied game in the bottom of the eighth, ASU’s Michelle Smith laid down a bunt and ended up on second base, after a throwing error on Alicia Hollowell.  Next, Jackie Vasquez took a cut at Hollowell’s 2-2 offering and hit a spinning ball into no man’s land between the pitcher and first baseman.  The hit put runners on the corners for ASU with only one out.  With the Pac-10’s leading hitter Kaitlin Cochran at the plate, UA intentionally walked her to load the bases.  Hollowell induced Rhiannon Baca into flying out to left.


That brought up Mindy Cowles, who has 13 home runs on the year.  Cowles worked the count 3-0, until Hollowell connected on a pair of called strikeouts.  With a 3-2 count, two outs and the bases loaded, Cowles fouled off the next two pitches before taking a third called strike to end the threat.


In the ninth, ASU had runners on first and second with only one out, but Hollowell put out the fire again with a fielder’s choice and a strikeout.


The Wildcats strung together a rally in the top of the tenth inning, as Taryne Mowatt led off with a single to left.  Caitlin Lowe pinch ran for Mowatt and stole second base, before an Adrienne Acton bunt single.  With runners on the corners, Acton stole second on the same pitch that Champion struck out on.  With two outs, ASU intentionally walked Fox.  Callista Balko struck out, sending the game to the bottom of the tenth.


In the bottom half, Baca hit a two-run homer to give ASU a walk-off win.


Up next: The Wildcats will play its second and final game at Arizona State tomorrow night at 7 p.m.  ASU has announced that the contest is already sold out.


Game notes:

-         Danielle Rodriguez, who started as the designated player, started for the first time in her career.

-         Adrienne Acton led off for the first time in her two years at UA.  Acton was UA’s third leadoff hitter in the past three games.  From the beginning of the 2004 campaign through the first 29 games of this season, Caitlin Lowe led off 147 games for the Wildcats.

-         Caitlin Lowe’s pinch-running appearance in the 10th marked the first time she has come off the bench in her career.

-         Arizona’s three hit batters tied a season high set on Feb. 24 against Texas A&M.

-         Arizona is now 1-2 in extra-inning games this year