Katiyana Mauga didn’t need all three games against Oregon to become the most prolific home-run hitter in the history of the University of Arizona softball program. It took just six trips to the plate to tie, and then break, the school record of 87 career home runs set by Stacie Chambers six years ago.
Friday night, the 5’2″ third baseman parked a home run over the deep left-field corner in the fifth inning of the opener for the three-game series against No. 6 Oregon. That one tied the record of 87. The following day she took sole possession of one of the most impressive marks in the program’s history books, this time over the right-field fence for No. 88.
That shot also solidified her position as No. 2 all-time in the NCAA record books, just eight round trips shy of Oklahoma’s Lauren Chamberlain, who set the national record with the Sooners in 2015.
With seven more games left on the regular schedule, and who knows how many more in the post-season, that top national mark is definitely within reach. She has homered four times in the last five games, including two in one game against New Mexico State on the road.
When Chambers cleared the right field fence in an NCAA Regional game in 2011, smashing into the scoreboard at Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium, to set the record, it was assumed that mark of 87 homers would stand for some time to come.
Chambers, who was a two-time Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year as a catcher at Cactus High School in Glendale, was with the Arizona program five years, the result of a devastating injury that caused her to lose a year. In the third game of her freshman season she hit a foul ball that caromed back into her face and caused a severe concussion and led to two facial surgeries to repair damage done by the impact. She sat out the 2007 season as a result and was forced to use a redshirt year.
She had 15 homers as a redshirt freshman and 31 homers in her sophomore year. But her junior year she began having vision problems that were attributed to the brain injury and her production fell to 21 home runs. A wildly successful senior season, which included two grand slam home runs in a single game, enabled her to add 20 more home runs and claim her place in the history books.
Chambers, who had seven inches in height on Mauga, says she has been following Mauga’s pursuit of No. 88 and was ready to accept that her record would be broken this year.
Mauga’s feat came at a good time since the Cats had just come back from road games in New Mexico and were playing in front of their fan base at Hillenbrand, where Arizona has won its last 25 games. A crowd of 2,622 fans were on hand yesterday to watch the 23-year-old break the record.
But the record-tying blast on Friday also set another new NCAA mark. With that home run, Katiyana Kealamaikalani-oloago Mauga became the first player in NCAA history to hit 20 or more home runs in each of her four seasons. She has 21 so far this season, the total she collected all of last season.
Oh, yeah… No. 2 Arizona won the first two games of the series, 2-0 and 10-7, to run its record to 45-3.
Today Mauga, who is 5-for-7 at the plate so far in two games against the Ducks, will get another chance to extend her home-run spree (11 homers over the last 14 games) when the series finale starts at 2 p.m.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)