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 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

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

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

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

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

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

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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