Arizona Wildcats in the News: Bannister, Mercado lift baseball, softball teams to wins

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While Arizona pitcher Nathan Bannister was throwing eight shutout innings against Washington State at Hi Corbett on Friday night, softball player Mo Mercado was doing damage to Houston with her bat at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Both sets of Cougars teams — Wazzu and Houston — lost to the Wildcat baseball and softball teams because of the exploits of Bannister and Mercado.

Bannister, a senior right-hander, set a season-high in innings pitched, strikeouts and pitches thrown in lifting the Wildcats to the series-opening win, 8-0, over Washington State. He scattered three hits over eight innings and struck out seven, while walking three. On the season, Bannister is 4-0 at Hi Corbett with an impressive 0.83 ERA in 32 2/3 innings pitched.

The Wildcats (19-11 overall, 4-6 in the Pac-12) will look to win the series today at 6 p.m. Left-hander J.C. Cloney will start for Arizona. Washington State (9-18, 2-8) will turn to right-hander Ryan Ward.

In the softball game last night, Mercado hit a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to lead the 18th-ranked Wildcats in Game 1 of the three-game series at Hillenbrand. The Wildcats beat the Cougars 4-3.

Arizona struggled offensively against Houston starter Savannah Heebner, but used Mercado’s three-run homer and big pitches from starter Danielle O’Toole (15-6) and reliever Taylor McQuillin (first save) to edge the Cougars.

Seven different Wildcats recorded hits in the game, including two-hit production from senior Lauren Young. Both Young and Mercado extended their hitting streaks to six games, each a season-long streak.

Due to impending bad weather tomorrow, a change in the schedule has Arizona and Houston playing a doubleheader today to complete the series beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Hillenbrand.

SOCIAL MEDIA REACTIONS

Josh Pastner tried to drum up fan and community support from Day One of his hire. The Yellowjackets play in an 8,600-seat arena called McCamish Pavilion. They averaged only 5,832 fans a game there last season.

Support for Pastner like that from Kentucky coach John Calipari, who hired the young coach at Memphis, meant more to Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski than what some Tigers’ fans thought of Pastner. It’s likely that Bobinski’s former coach at Xavier, Sean Miller, also put in a good word about Pastner.

Scout.com caught Arizona commit Kobi Simmons on video during his workouts and performance at the McDonald’s All-American Game last week in Chicago.

Two high-profile recruits Arizona is targeting — Josh Jackson and Terrance Ferguson — play today at noon in the Nike Hoop Summit. The game will be televised by ESPN2.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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