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Az keeps burning squads after intentional walks

Citizen Staff Writer



Cheers from the dugout accompanied Arizona’s Sam “Bam” Banister to the plate Sunday against Cal.

They were cheers of anticipation as the intentional walk to teammate Stacie Chambers was completed.

“She knows,” said teammate Brittany Lastrapes of Banister’s uncanny follow through of the script: a home run.

“All I wanted to do was get a good pitch to hit,” said senior Banister. She smacked the ball high over the right-center field wall with her team behind 5-4 in the sixth inning.

It was the third straight time Banister has homered after an intentional pass to Chambers. It gave UA an eventual 7-5 win and improved the Wildcats’ record to to 36-9 overall, 8-2 in the Pac-10.

Last week against Arizona State, Chambers was intentionally walked twice in a game. Banister followed with a three-run homer each time.

It’s hard to fault opponents for walking Chambers, who leads the country with 26 homers and 79 RBIs after hitting a solo home run Sunday.

Banister wasn’t expecting a homer against No. 14 Cal, but she was confident she’d get a nice rip and she did, blasting her 12th homer.

Banister has heard the doubts people have about the UA pitching staff, but feels her team, ranked No. 9 nationally, should be first.

“I would say we should be No. 1,” she said. “Our pitching has settled down. They are locating the ball better.”

Jen Martinez (9-3) picked up the win in relief of Sarah Akamine. Martinez got into a bit of a jam in the top of the seventh by letting two runners on, but Karissa Buchanan made a nice catch on Taylor Kelly’s towering drive.

Kelly’s grand slam in the fourth inning capped Cal’s five-run outburst that chased Akamine.

“She’s saved my butt more times than I can count,” said Martinez of Buchanan.

“I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself, not relaxed enough.”

The Wildcats lead the Pac-10 race, but a No. 1 overall ranking isn’t on coach Mike Candrea’s mind.

“The girls can enjoy a big win,” he said, “I can’t until the last one (NCAA finals). That’s a long way off and we have a long way to go.”


UA has clubbed 105 homers in 45 games this year. The team’s top long-ball hitters:


Stacie Chambers 26 79

Jenae Leles 20 56

Brittany Lastrapes 13 48

Sam Banister 12 44

Lini Koria 10 40

UP NEXT: Arizona at UCLA, 7 p.m. Friday

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