If the bats aren’t working, it only takes one missed pitch to decide a game. It was almost the tale of the game when Arizona softball faced Yale to open the Bear Down Fiesta, but sophomore pitcher Devyn Netz was able to recover from early difficulty and dominate until her offense put together enough scoring to win 5-1.
“I think it’s kind of like the nerves in the game that first time out,” Netz said. “I kind of always have those little nervous butterflies in the beginning, but I feel like if I don’t have those, then I don’t love this game anymore.”
Netz sat down the first two batters she saw, then gave up a home run to Yale catcher Sam Goodcase. It was only one run, but Arizona’s offense didn’t look like it was going to be able to overcome even the small deficit.
In the early going, the Wildcats were let down by the middle of the order. They loaded the bases in the bottom of the third only to have the three, four, and five hitters strikeout and pop out to end the threat.
Through the first three innings, the middle of the order went 0-6.
“Sometimes we put some pressure on just because we know that we can hit, and so when we’re not, we press a little bit,” sophomore second base Allie Skaggs said.
The next inning, the first two batters got on base and stood on second and third with one out. Yale shortstop Carolyn Skotz went up to get the soft liner from Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, then tossed it to second. Blaise Biringer had strayed too far from the base. A double play and the inning was over without runs yet again.
Netz held things together while her offense tried to find its way. She allowed a single in the second inning, but that was the only base runner until the seventh. She gave up just three hits, striking out eight and walking none in seven innings.
Arizona finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Jasmine Perezchica and Skaggs reached to lead off the inning, then moved up on a groundout from Sharlize Palacios. A single off the bat of Carlie Scupin got both runners in to give the Wildcats the 2-1 lead.
“She’s been so clutch in that moment so many times,” Skaggs said of Scupin. “I feel like I’m on second base every time she’s up in a clutch moment.”
There could have been more, though. Izzy Pacho reached on a single, giving Arizona two on with one out. That was promptly put to rest by fly-outs from Bailey Thompson and Biringer.
But the Wildcats finally had it going. After another 1-2-3 inning by Netz, the Arizona offense kept moving. One-out singles by Koutsoyanopulos and Perezchica put two on for Skaggs, who knocked it over the fence for a 5-1 lead.
“I think we score runs quickly when we have our heads screwed on and I just hope we can carry that,” head coach Caitlin Lowe said.
Netz continued dealing, keeping the Bulldogs off the board for the rest of the game.