Citizen Staff Writer
TEMPE – For Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, starting freshman pitcher Sarah Akamine was a calculated risk Wednesday night.
Arizona, ranked No. 3 in the nation, ended up losing 6-3 to No. 7 Arizona State.
“We have four games this week,” Candrea said. “We have to give her the opportunity to see what she can do. We also were able to win two of three against ASU with only showing them (ace pitcher) Taryne Mowatt.”
Arizona won two games over the Sun Devils earlier in the month and will not face them again in the regular season. But the rivals are likely to see each other in postseason play.
Akamine (8-2) gave up 12 hits Wednesday night, walking four with no strikeouts, but she pitched a complete game.
“She stood up to the challenge mentally, but all her pitches weren’t working,” Candrea said. She became one dimensional.
“If we had gotten ourselves into a save situation, I might have put Taryne in, but I had planned to let Sarah pitch the whole game.”
Arizona State (40-10, 6-3) jump-started the first inning with an RBI single by Kaitlin Cochran. Bianca Cruz then advanced the runner on a sacrifice fly before Ashley Muenz hit a two-run homer. ASU took a 3-0 lead.
But Arizona (31-9, 7-2) found its bats in the second inning. Jenae Leles managed to get a walk out of Arizona State left-handed pitcher Katie Burkhart.
Sam Banister then got on base with a bloop single and K’Lee Arredondo hit her second home run of the year to clear the bases and bring Arizona to a 3-3 tie.
In the fourth inning, the Sun Devils took a 5-3 lead on a pair of RBI singles by Cruz and Mindy Cowles. Cochran added another RBI single in the fifth inning for the home team.
Burkhart (22-9) allowed Arizona just three hits, while striking out 13 and walking one.
“Burkhart is tough, no way around it,” Candrea said. “As much as you prepare, when batters face a left-handed pitcher they take chances.
“But our batters got seven innings to work on hitting her pitches.”