TUCSON - Nineteenth-ranked Arizona softball (24-13, 4-5 Pac-12) earned its first win over a top-five team Wednesday when it downed fifth-ranked California (29-4, 5-1 Pac-12) 7-3 at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Shelby Babcock shined in the circle as the junior tossed 4.1 innings in relief and kept the Bear bats at bay. Babcock struck out six batters while limiting Cal to one run on four hits and two walks.
There were runners in scoring position in every inning against Babcock, but the pitcher routinely made pitches and got outs when she needed, perhaps none bigger than the first batter she faced. Babcock entered in the third inning with two runners in scoring position and two out. Cal had just scored two runs off UA starter Nancy Bowling to steal momentum and was a base hit from taking the lead. Babcock struck out Vanessa Alvarez to end the inning
Bowling allowed two unearned runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in the start.
Arizona touched up Cal starter Jolene Henderson for seven runs, five earned, on seven hits. The seven runs surrendered by Henderson matched her season-most; Henderson allowed seven runs to Florida in her second start of the year. Henderson fell to 25-3 with the loss.
The Cats had eight hits in the contest, none bigger than Chelsea Goodacre's three-run home run in the fifth inning. The sophomore's 13th home run of the year turned a tense 3-2 Arizona lead into a comfortable 6-2 advantage. The homer was a part of Goodacre's four-RBI game, giving her 44 for the season.
Hallie Wilson remained hot with a pair of hits in the game, giving the sophomore her third multi-hit contest in the series.
Arizona scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, equaling the total number of runs it scored in Tuesday's doubleheader.
Wilson and Chelsea Suitos led off the inning with singles and Kelsey Rodriguez drew a walk to load the bases with no one out. Goodacre hit a sacrifice fly the moved all three runners. Mandie Perez drew a walk and Brigette Del Ponte singled two home to give the Cats a 3-0 lead.
A single and two walks loaded the bases for Cal with only out in the second. A Bowling strikeout and flyout stranded the bases loaded, three of the 11 left on base for the Bears in the game.
The Bears got on the board in the third with help from a trio of free bases. A Del Ponte error followed by a walk gave Cal two runners with no one out. After a groundout moved the runners over, Bowling send a pitch to the backstop to plate Cal's first run. A sacrifice fly by Danielle Henderson made it 3-2. Bowling would allow back-to-back two-out hits, a single and a double to signal the end of her day. Babcock entered to strike out Alvarez and strand the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position.
Arizona, meanwhile, was held hitless in the second, third and fourth innings before turning it on in the fifth. Wilson led off the frame with a single and Suitos reached on an error. The two would score when Goodacre went to the opposite field for her 13th homer of the season and give Arizona a 6-3 lead. The Cats would extend the lead later in the inning when two more UA hits put runners on the corners. Del Ponte would score on a delayed steal while Lauren Young was in a rundown between first and second.
The Bears would get a run back in the top of the fifth on a Britt Vonk RBI single, but would not get any closer.
Arizona returns to action when it hosts UC Santa Barbara for a two-game series at Hillenbrand this weekend. The two teams meet Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday at noon PDT.