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Home run derby between Arizona and Oregon goes the Wildcats’ way

Arizona softball talks to ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the win over Oregon
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

A total of seven pitchers gave up seven home runs, but Arizona softball left fewer runners on base on the way to an 11-8 victory over Oregon. It was the first opening-game win in a Pac-12 series for the Wildcats this season. It also started their first winning streak of the Pac-12 season after defeating Oregon State last Sunday.

“It feels best to win the first game of the series and make a statement with our bats,” said head coach Caitlin Lowe. “I think that was huge.”

It hasn’t come easily for Arizona, which improved to 3-10 in Pac-12 play with the win.

“I think we’ve been trying to do that all season and it’s just, it’s been a struggle,” said junior third base Izzy Pacho. “But it is awesome to come out here, have our pitchers' backs, have our hitters' backs, play defense, just kind of have everything come together. And so I just think it’s special for this group and we’re just gonna go up from here.”

Hanah Bowen both started and finished the game, but a lot went on between her exit in the top of the third and her re-entry in the top of the seventh.

“She was a different person that second time around, and I think that was huge because she went in in the last inning and she played the game,” Lowe said about her senior pitcher. “And I think...she put a lot of pressure on herself in the first inning and was worried about mechanics but she came in she’s like, this is a situation, this is what I have to get out of. And she played the game. And that’s the Bow I know and love and keep putting in the game because I trust that Bow.”

Things started going sideways early. Bowen gave up a one-out double to Allee Bunker in the first inning. Bunker was knocked in by Terra McGowan to start the scoring.

Then came the home runs. Two by the Ducks with two outs in the top of the first added three more runs. A third home run in the second inning followed by a single was enough to chase Bowen in favor of Madi Elish.

The desert air and wind intermittently blowing out towards left field wasn’t just good for the visitors. Arizona put up two runs in the first on an Allie Skaggs home run, but they still trailed.

The Wildcats got their first big inning in the bottom of the fourth against three different Oregon pitchers. Another home run—a three-run job by Paige Dimler—tied it up at five apiece.

“I was looking for something on the outer half,” Dimler said.

She got it, then RBI singles by Jasmine Perezchica and Sharlize Palacios gave the home team five runs in the inning to head to the fifth with a two-run lead.

Oregon didn’t go away easily, though.

Trailing 8-5 in top of the sixth, the Ducks tied it up on an RBI double by Ariel Carlson and a two-run home run by Hannah Galey.

An RBI double by Carlie Scupin gave Arizona the one-run lead, but that’s not a large cushion for a slugfest. Pacho followed Scupin with a blast to left field, giving Devyn Netz and Bowen some breathing room in the top of the seventh.

“I turned to (Lauren) Lappin and I said, ‘I need to take a deep breath,’” Pacho said. “And she’s like, ‘shoulders up, shoulders down, like relax, take a deep breath. And then I got in the box. I saw my pitch and I just went. They were getting me on that inside pitch all day and so I knew I was gonna get another one, and that’s why I just turned and burned.”

Netz got the win for Arizona and Bowen picked up her first save of the year. Oregon used four pitchers, but the loss went to Makenna Kliethermes.