LOWELL, Mass. Behind a solid pitching effort from the recently acquired, Danielle Henderson, Arizona takes the final game of the three-game series with the Riptide by a final score of 3-1.
The win for the Heat, not only snapped a mini two-game losing streak for Arizona, but it also pulled the team to 4.5 games of the Riptide for the final National Pro Fastpitch playoff spot.
Jodi Otten, who was recently nominated for league Player of the Week, continued her solid play for the Heat, collecting two hits on the afternoon. The first of the two hits came on the second pitch of the game by Riptide hurler Megan Matthews. Otten sent a ball to the right centerfield gap for a double, but was left stranded on third base.
After the double to Otten, Matthews settled in and went on to retire the next 11 hitters she faced. Matthews, who picked up the complete game victory on Friday night, went 5 1/3 innings today, allowing two runs and four hits in the losing effort.
It took Arizona until the top half of the sixth inning to get on the scoreboard, but when they did they struck for three runs on three hits. Otten got the rally started with another hard hit to right field; the hit was her second of the day. Ottens single was followed by a slap hit to leftfield by Katie Gutierrez, which put runners on first and second. After the base hit by Gutierrez, Saturdays starter for the Riptide, Leigh Ann Ellis entered the game to pitch. Ellis would walk Cheryl Bolding to load the bases for the Heat and Becky Turi connected for the first big hit of the inning, an RBI single to centerfield. First baseman Jessica Rapoza finished the rally for Arizona with a big two-out single on an 0-2 count to drive in Gutierrez and Bolding.
New England got on the scoreboard first, thanks in a large part to Tara Knudsens big day at the plate. Knudsen picked up two hits on the afternoon, including a two-out double in the bottom of the third inning. She also scored the only run of the game for the Riptide, as she came around to score on a lined single to centerfield by Sara Jewett. The Riptides Meg Young was the only other New England hitter to pick a hit on the day.
After allowing the run in the third inning, Henderson settled in and allowed only one hit over the final four innings of play. Henderson allowed four hits on the day to the Riptide, while striking out four batters, including two of the final four batters she faced. The win for Henderson improved her record to 2-0 for the Heat, and is now 6-1 overall.
Arizona will look to get on a roll when they travel to Montclair, NJ to take on the struggling Juggernaut. The first game of the series is scheduled to begin at 1pm EDT on Tuesday, July 27.
Arizonas next home game will be on July 31st against the Sunbirds and will feature a fireworks show. For additional information on the Heat or to purchase tickets, visit the teams website at www.tucsonsoftball.com or call 520-296-9595.