At UA, it's Softball Nation - The Explorer: Sports

At UA, it's Softball Nation

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:02 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Last Friday, the action stormed at the University of Arizona’s Hillenbrand Field.

The wind swirled, corkscrewing softballs in mid-air, carrying several of them toward left field, as University of Arizona spectators donned their heavy jackets.

Ultimately, the Wildcats came away with a 2-1 win, on the backs of hot bats that thrived in the winds, delivering a pair of solo homers.

In that left field corner, we nestled with a handful of fans ducking each time the fluorescent yellow orbs careened overhead, like a mortar barrage. Occasionally, the errant shots would threaten cars parked along East 2nd Street, as we held our breaths to see who’d lose a windshield.

We didn’t brace to see whether their girls would send the Oklahoma Sooners packing, though. We tensed only to suppress our shivers. A church-worth of easygoing faith permeated the stadium, which given the weather, could’ve found the Pittsburgh Steelers taking the field afterwards.

While the state of Oklahoma offers little in the way of interesting highway scenery, their Sooners gave a good fight. They also put forth a handful of noisy Land-of-Choctaw spectators, who chattered and howled with each of their girls’ plays.

For them, it was soon clear that Arizona ace Taryne Mowatt was starving the oxygen from their team — especially as the Arizona crowd chanted her name whenever she fireballed a strikeout to close the late innings.

In fact, the sole effort that Oklahoma’s possibly-drunken left-field bleacher corps mustered after the sixth was to run out behind the outfield wall and toss Brittany Lastrapes’ homer back into center field.

Our new favorite usher, a fellow by the name of Maury, stood nearby and worked the gate for Arizona’s coaches. Between fetching errant balls and entertaining young kids, it was obvious he thoroughly enjoyed the job.

The Air Force veteran and now-retired UofA grad, who joked about being a “failed athlete,” has ushered a decade of Wildcats events, nearly everything offered on the roster. While football’s his favorite, softball’s fast becoming a tough ticket to snare, he said — even when you’re on the payroll.

So tough that he’s only managed to draw detail at Hillenbrand Field for five or six games this year.

That situation’s probably only going to continue for Maury, as the Arizona’s softballers continue to cement themselves as a solid draw, with over 2,000 turning out for Friday’s matchup.

Saturday confirmed as much. The previous day’s attendance was eclipsed, as Mowatt pulled off her 100th win for the storied program, which awaits the 2010 arrival of Canyon Del Oro hurler Kenzie Fowler.

With that victory, the Wildcats began preparing for their 20th Women’s College World Series bid.

It’s the sort of situation that could turn into a dynasty, given Fowler encapsulates the ‘Cats streak of rolling through playoff stretches atop the mound with one dominant thrower. Here’s hoping that continues, as the Wildcats continue the quest for their third straight title, this week.

Bear Down, Cats!

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

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