College softball: Arizona's Mike Candrea becomes fastest coach to hit 1,500 wins
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Head coach Mike Candrea entered the season 32 victories shy of 1,500 for his illustrious career at Arizona. On Sunday, in Arizona's 33rd game of 2017, fifth-ranked Arizona defeated sixth-ranked Washington 5-2 for Candrea's 1,500th victory, making him the first coach to reach 1,500 Division I softball wins.
Thirty two wins in 33 games in 2017, 1,500 wins in 1,882 career games. Candrea is the fastest coach in NCAA history, in any sport, in any division, to reach 1,500 career wins. Candrea is 1,500-380-2 (.798), trailing only Michigan's Carol Hutchins 1,506-485-5 (.756), who spent time in Division II, in NCAA history.
The Wildcats completed the sweep of the Huskies for the milestone victory, earning their first three-game sweep of a top-10 team since sweeping No. 8 Stanford in 2010.
The victory improved the Wildcats to 32-1 on the season and gave UA its first 6-0 start to conference play since 2004. Washington fell to 26-6 (3-3 Pac-12) with the loss.
Danielle O'Toole followed her Friday night no-hitter with another gem, allowing just two unearned runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk. O'Toole, who lowered her ERA to 0.69 with the dominant weekend, improved to 16-1 on the year.
Arizona used a pair of two-run homers to do the heavy lifting offensively. Mo Mercado's two-run shot to left got the scoring in the fourth before Alyssa Palomino hit her second home run of the series in the fifth. Jessie Harper also drove in a run in the game.
Eight different Wildcats had hits in the game, as Arizona continued its 1-through-9 offensive attack on UW pitching. Mandie Perez and Ashleigh Hughes led the Cats with two hits apiece.
After 3.5 scoreless innings, Katiyana Mauga was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the first. Pinch runner Eva Watson stole second and then trotted home on Mercado's homer to left field.
In the fourth, Ashleigh Hughes led off with a single, but UW starter Taran Alvelo retired the next two batters. Alvelo got ahead 0-2 on Palomino, who took the next pitch, a changeup, to right-center for her second homer of the series, and ninth of 2017. The next two Wildcats reached to keep the two-out rally going for Harper, who blooped one into shallow left to plate Mauga and put the Cats up 5-0.
In the top of the seventh, an error extended the inning for Kirstyn Thomas, who homered to right-center for the first, and only, runs scored by Washington in the series.