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Catch spurs UA softball to big rally

Key catch spurs softball team to 7th-inning rally

Two thousand-plus Arizona fans may be talking for weeks about how an unbelievable catch and two dramatic homers lifted the Wildcats past visiting Oregon 7-6 on Sunday.

“It’s good to go through what we did today,” said Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, who saw his team sharpen its teeth a little on a close game. “They’re going to happen,” he added, talking of the upcoming Pac-10 schedule.

Arizona (31-7, 3-0) hit the long ball again, but there was also some nice defense, including freshman Karissa Buchanan’s leaping save of a possible Oregon homer in the seventh inning.

The Cats got some solid pitching for a while and they rallied to win. The ill points were sort of forgotten by the dramatics of K’Lee Arredondo’s two-run homer to tie the game in the seventh and Jenae Leles’ winning home run on the first pitch after Arredondo’s homer.

That Oregon was able to take a seventh-inning lead and hit well against a once-fabled pitching staff will be on the backburner for now.

Arredondo and Leles agreed that the momentum to the rally was spurred by Buchanan’s catch.

After Jen Martinez (7-1) had retired 11 straight batters as the third pitcher, Oregon took a 6-4 lead in the top of the seventh on a single, a walk and Neena Bryant’s three-run homer as Martinez got “too fine” with her pitches.

Monique Fuiava then hit a shot to deep right. Buchanan took off to her left, got her glove over the fence and held onto the ball as she hit the wooden fence.

“I saw no wall,” the former Sabino High School star insisted, nursing a swelling nose.

Candrea praised: “She did what you don’t coach.”

Brittany Lastrapes drew a walk to start the bottom of the seventh, and then Arredondo hit a high hard one off Samantha Skillingstad to tie the game.

“I wasn’t looking for anything,” Arredondo said. “I don’t think up there. (Skillingstad) had been changing speeds all day.”

Leles’ blow was a no-doubter off losing pitcher Brittany Rumfelt, and was a foot too high to break a window in the brick building in right center. The ball looked like a melon in front of her.

“It was nice, waist-high,” she said.

Thus Arizona survived a weekend against the Pac-10′s weakest teams with a perilous road ahead. And it’s pitching is still uncertain.

The Wildcats beat Oregon State 12-9 on Friday and Oregon 11-3 on Saturday.

This week, UA visits Washington on Friday before games at UCLA on Saturday and Sunday.

Either Lindsey Sisk (who started Sunday) or Sarah Akamine will start most games for Arizona and Martinez will come in as the situational pitcher, hopefully to close things.

Candrea planned to use Sisk and Akamine for three innings each Sunday “but that didn’t happen,” he said. “We have to get more into the moment and there will be a lot of variables. We need to learn game management.”

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