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UA wins power ball

Wildcats put on fireworks display at the plate

Stanford's Shannon Koplitz is forced out by University of Arizona third baseman Jenae Leles on Friday night at UA.

Stanford's Shannon Koplitz is forced out by University of Arizona third baseman Jenae Leles on Friday night at UA.

The University of Arizona now has 99 reasons it may be the most underrated softball team in the nation.

No. 2-ranked Stanford took the brunt of another UA fireworks display as No. 9 Arizona (34-9, 6-2) routed the visiting Cardinal 12-4 in six innings on Friday.

Jenae Leles’ three-run, first-inning homer powered UA to a quick lead as the Wildcats took over sole possession of first place in the Pac-10, moving a game ahead of Stanford (36-5, 6-4).

“It’s hard for any team to come back after that,” said Leles who has 20 of Arizona’s 99 season homers, just 26 short of the NCAA record which was set by the 2001 Wildcats.

“Everybody feels they are going to hit the ball hard,” said UA coach Mike Candrea. “When you can hit right away it gives you that invincible feeling.”

The assignment certainly didn’t appear easy. Stanford threw pitcher Missy Penna and her 0.90 ERA, which is now heightened a bit.

“She’s not overpowering, but she has good movement,” Leles said. “It wasn’t working tonight. We had to decide how the umpire was calling them and I was able in the first to sit on her pitches.”

Leles hit the ball to the top row of the left field bleachers. K’Lee Arredondo followed with a two-run bomb in the third and Brittany Lastrapes added a three-run shot in the sixth.

Lini Koria ended the game with two outs in the sixth with an RBI single to enforce the mercy rule.

The game’s momentum easily could have gone to Stanford as UA pitcher Sarah Akamine (15-4) allowed the first two hitters to single.

But Arredondo dived to snare a line drive and the pitcher, used to living dangerously this year, got out of another jam.

“K’Lee save me,” Akamine said. “I get into situations, but I know the defense is behind me.”

Candrea is resigned to the Cats’ power game being the key to this year’s success and was not thrilled with three errors. But Akamine again pitched on guts, allowing two earned runs.

“She can’t give the hitters too much credit,” Candrea said. “Then she gets too careful and gets behind. She was aggressive tonight.”



Saturday: No. 14 California (28-13, 5-5) at Arizona (34-9, 6-2), 7 p.m. Radio: 1290 AM. Sunday: Cal at UA, noon

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