Arizona softball

Mike Candrea gathered his team down the left field line moments after the Arizona Wildcats' best win of the year Wednesday and told his players to remember what the last out felt like.

Not just the result - a 7-3 win against No. 4 Cal - but the noise.

"That was the first time this year that I heard old Hillenbrand Stadium," Candrea said. "Final out. People on their feet clapping for the final out.

"Man, that juices me up. That was nice to see.

"And I wanted to make sure they were aware of that, because this place has been very good to us, and we can't afford to keep giving it back."

The crowd - announced generously at 1,900, but more sparse, given the matinee start time - in turn saw the Wildcats (24-13, 4-5) earn their second Top 25 win of the year.

The UA's first three batters of the game scored against Cal star Jolene Henderson - as many as had crossed the plate during both games of Tuesday's twinbill, combined.

Henderson, who won both games Tuesday, gave up seven runs in five innings.

Hallie Wilson and Chelsea Suitos singled to start the first and moved up a bag on a passed ball. Kelsey Rodriguez walked, and Chelsea Goodacre launched a sacrifice fly to right field for a 1-0 lead.

After a walk loaded the bases again, Brigette Del Ponte singled up the middle to score two.

The senior was moved down to No. 6 in the order after her average plummeted to .229.

"It felt really good," Del Ponte said. "I was still kinda mad. And I got two RBIs out of it."

UA starting pitcher Nancy Bowling stranded a runner at second in the first inning and left the bases loaded in the second before finally suffering damage.

With runners at second and third with one out in the third, Bowling threw a wild pitch that plated Britt Vonk and moved pinch runner Mary Lee to third. Lee scored on a Danielle Henderson sac fly to pull within one, 3-2.

The bases empty, Bowling allowed a single and a double before being lifted for Shelby Babcock, who struck out Vanessa Alvarez to escape.

"I really was impressed with 'Babs' coming in," Candrea said. "Things are starting to fall apart a little bit, and she came in and shut the door."

Babcock allowed one run on four hits, striking out six, in 4 1/3 innings.

Asked whether the relief effort in the third was the biggest pitch series of the season, the junior smiled.

"Something I've been working on personally is the mental side of my game, so not thinking about the what-ifs helps me," she said. "Going in and being positive about things."

The UA didn't get another hit until, up 3-2, Wilson led off the fifth with a single. Suitos reached, too, on an error by shortstop Cheyenne Cordes.

After Rodriguez failed to get a bunt down, Goodacre hit an opposite-field fly ball that carried over the left field wall.

Her three-run shot gave the UA a 6-2 lead.

"At that point I was just thinking, let's hope it goes over," she said. "I think everybody relaxed a bit."

Later in the inning, Del Ponte singled and went to third on a Lauren Young liner past the third baseman.

With scuffling Estela Piñon at the plate with two outs, the Wildcats pulled the ol' Little League move: As Jolene Henderson threw home, Young broke to steal second, drawing a throw from the catcher.

Del Ponte scampered home before Young, caught in a pickle, could be tagged out.

"It's fun for the whole team," Del Ponte said, "because we work on it so much during practice."

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley