SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University softball team wrapped up play at the Wildcat Invitational with a pair of tough losses to the No. 15 Arizona Sunday evening in Tucson, Ariz.
Despite a two-out grand slam from Hayley Bottino (Canyon Country, Calif.) in the top of seventh inning, the Bulldogs (4-6) came up just short against the host Wildcats (17-3), 6-5, in the first leg of Sunday's double dip.
In the top of the seventh, freshman Robyn Ukegawa (Carlsbad, Calif.) sparked a late rally for the Black and Gold with a pinch hit single to left field. After walks from Rachel Monroe (Southwick, Mass.) and Madeline Velasquez (Los Angeles, Calif.), Bottino found herself at the dish with two outs and the bases loaded and took advantage of the opportunity, sending a shot of the left field wall to close the once 6-1 gap to a single run game.
However, on the subsequent possession Arizona induced a ground ball to seal the 6-5 win but, it wasn't without a scare as the Bulldogs gave the hosts their toughest game of the weekend.
Bryant led in the contest for more than two and half innings after taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when junior infielder Liana Ogata (Tustin, Calif.) attempted to steal second, resulting in a throw into the outfield and an error, allowing Ogata to come all the way home and put the Bulldogs up, 1-0.
The Wildcats would tie the score in the bottom of the third but most of their damage was done in the fourth when they strung together five hits to score four runs and take a 5-1 edge. Arizona would add one more run in the sixth on a Mandie Perez solo homerun and were forced to weather a late barrage from the Black and Gold, but ultimately held on for the 6-5 victory.
Junior Elle Madsen (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) was handed the loss in the pitching circle but, she held the No. 15 ranked team in the country to just six runs (their lowest total all weekend) on 10 hits, striking out three in six innings of work
In the second game on Sunday, Arizona flexed its muscles, showcasing why it's a nationally-ranked program with an 18-1 victory over the Bulldogs.
Three runs in the bottom of the first and seven more in the second spotted the Wildcats a quick 10-0 lead after just two innings of play. The hosts tacked on eight more runs in the fourth to push the gap to 18 runs.
The Black and Gold did push one run across in the top of the fifth inning, registering two of their three hits, singles from Ukegawa and sophomore Mallory Harrigan (Albany, N.Y.), to start the inning before Ukegawa took advantage of a wild pitch to score Bryant's lone run.
Wrapping up play at the Wildcat Invite, the Bulldogs will have four days before beginning their Spring Break trip in California where they will play 14 games in nine days. They kick off the trip at the Mustang Classic in San Luis Obispo, Calif., facing off with Sacramento St. on Friday at 12 p.m. EST.