Tucson, AZ - For the third consecutive game, a team used a dramatic, late-game comeback to persevere in the Territorial Cup battle between Arizona softball and Arizona State. For the first time, though, Sunday Arizona was the victim, not the conqueror.
The Wildcats (30-23, 7-14 Pac-12) took a three-run lead into the top of the seventh inning, three outs away from sweeping the third ranked Sun Devils. ASU (43-9, 14-7 Pac-12) scored four times in the seventh to rally and defeat the Wildcats, who took the first two games of the series.
In her final game in Hillenbrand Stadium, Arizona's lone senior Brigette Del Ponte put together arguably her best game of the season. For the first time in 2013, Del Ponte had three hits, including a home run and a two-run double. The senior drove in four of Arizona's six runs in the game, tying for her most RBI in a game all season.
Both defenses struggled battling with the elements - wind gusts upwards of 25 miles per hour and sun in the eyes of the left side of the infield as well as directly in the eyes of the left fielder. Despite just three official errors, both teams exchanged defensive miscues created by Mother Nature.
Through the first six innings, Shelby Babcock (16-10) had allowed just three runs on seven hits before giving up four runs on three hits and getting one out in the seventh. Babcock struck out four and walked three in the contest.
Estela Piñon entered in seventh inning and gave up an Elizabeth Caporuscio go-ahead single that brought in two inherited runners. The junior the next two batters out to end the inning.
The Cats scored six runs, five earned, off ASU starter Dallas Escobedo, who struck out one and walked three in 2.2 innings. She was relieved by Mackenzie Popescue who allowed only two hits in the final 4.1 innings and did not give up a run.
UA struck for three runs in the bottom of the first inning when the Cats mounted a two-out rally. Arizona had a runner at second with two out when Lauren Young worked a walk and Kelsey Rodriguez followed with an RBI single to put Arizona on the board. Del Ponte followed with her first two RBI of the game when she doubled a pair home to make it 3-0.
ASU plated three runs on five hits in the third inning to knot the game, but the tie did not last long.
After Young worked a leadoff walk in the bottom half, Brigette Del Ponte launched her sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot to right field to make it 5-3 Arizona. Mandie Perez promptly doubled and was singled home by Alex Lavine to give the Cats a three-run lead.
The lead stood up until the seventh inning when ASU took the lead. Amber Freeman was walked to start the inning and Haley Steele reached on a fielding error by left fielder Hallie Wilson. Babcock would strike out the next batter before allowing back-to-back hits, the latter of which, a two-run double by Nikki Girard made it 6-5 and chased Babcock in favor of Piñon. The Arizona pitcher gave up a two-run, go-ahead single to Caporuscio before getting the next two batters.
In the bottom of the inning, the Wildcats made it interesting. Kelsey Rodriguez, after Young roped a fly ball near the warning track in dead center that was caught by Alix Johnson, walked and moved to second on Del Ponte's third hit of the game. After Perez grounded out, pinch hitter Nancy Bowling walked to load the bases with two out. Lavine was struck out looking to end the game.
The Wildcats end the regular season next weekend when they take on Stanford in Palo Alto.