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Arizona softball: Utah outlasts Wildcats in extra innings

Arizona just couldn't hold off Utah for the series win

Gabe Encinas

The Arizona Wildcats took game one against the Utah Utes on Thursday evening by a final score of 3-1, despite only coming up with two hits on the night. Heading into Friday night, the Wildcats were hungry for their second-consecutive Pac-12 series win. That series win will have to wait until Saturday, as the Cats dropped this game in extra innings by a final score of 7-3.

After only recording two hits the night before, Arizona came up with nine, but couldn't get the bats going when they needed them.

Taylor McQuillin got the start in the circle and got a little roughed up in the first inning, but was able to hold off the Utes and get out of the frame unscathed, stranding runners on second and third.

Arizona was able to respond by getting some baserunners of their own, after Katiyana Mauga hopped aboard on a fielder's choice and Mo Mercado took a pitch to the thigh. Up next was freshman Tamara Statman with two outs on the board, who was able to draw a walk, loading the bases for Lauren Young. Young couldn't get it going, as she popped up to second base to end the inning.

Hannah Flippen hit a two-run shot in the third inning for Utah. She also hit a home run Thursday night, making it her fifth in five Pac-12 games this season. McQuillin was able to get through the rest of the inning, making it a 2-0 game.

Mandie Perez responded with a quick base hit to start of the bottom of the third inning. Up next was Mauga, who hit a line drive into left field that went just under Kay Kay Fronda's glove, allowing Perez to score from first base, cutting the deficit in half.

Statman was able to hit a hard ball to Utah second baseman Flippen. Flippen was unable to control the grounder, allowing Mauga to advance to third and Statman to board first safely utilizing her speed. Lauren Young was back up to bat with two outs once again, and couldn't deliver, hitting a liner right to the shortstop. It was a rough night for Young.

At the top of the fifth inning, Mandie Perez went diving for a ball in deep left field and just barely missed the catch, landing awkwardly on her shoulder, needing some medical attention up against the wall. She was able to shake it off and return to her position. McQuillin was able to get out of the inning, leaving the Utes with a runner on second.

in the top of the sixth inning, McQuillin found herself in some more trouble, with runners on second and third base, but eventually worked herself out of the jam, keeping the deficit at 2-1.

Arizona got more baserunners on board in the bottom of the sixth inning.This time, the Cats delivered as Ashleigh Hughes hit a deep ball to center field to get her on second base, bringing Merrille Miller home and putting Mandie Perez on third. Up next at the plate was Mauga, who was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Mo Mercado with two outs. On the first pitch, she hit a pop up to end the inning.

Arizona was heading into the seventh inning all tied up, with Taylor McQuillin back in the circle and controlled the Utes, now hopeful for a walkoff in the bottom of the seventh.

The freshman Statman was able to draw a walk and Lauren Young was able to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt to advance Statman. Utah made a quick pitching change to bring out their ace Miranda Viramontes, with freshman Joelle Krist up to bat with just one out and Statman on second.

Krist hit the ball up the gap, but Utah was able to recover it and threw out Statman at third base after she turned the corner a little too hard, unable to get back to third base. That left Krist on first base with two outs and Alexis Dotson up to bat.

Dotson was able to battle to a full count and hit a high chopper to third base, allowing her to reach first safely, with Krist on second. So up comes another freshman, Merrilee Miller, with two runners on and two out, hitting a chopper back to the pitcher, ending the inning, giving us free softball in Tucson, Arizona.

Two early walks by McQuillin in extra innings put the pressure on, and got Danielle O'Toole up in the bullpen. McQuillin had runners on first and second base with one out, but was able to strike out the next batter, and had a great defensive play by Mandie Perez in left field to end the inning and get out of yet another jam.

To the bottom of the eighth inning. Mandie Perez swung on the first pitch and hit a ball to third base, giving Arizona an early out with Ashleigh Hughes up to bat. She too hit the ball to third base, now giving Arizona two outs with Mauga up to bat, who Utah intentionally walked once again, putting all the pressure on Mo Mercado. She hit the ball to first base for the third out, taking us to the ninth inning.

McQuillin found herself in danger once again, and a couple of hits and a walk put Utah on the board, with runners on first and second with only one out. Ally Dickman delivered a shot to left field and Merrilee Miller couldn't get under the ball in time, dropping the ball and allowing Utah to get another run. Candrea headed to the circle to make a pitching change, putting O'Toole in for McQuillin.

O'Toole gave up a hit to center field which resulted in a bases loaded situation for the Utes with just one out.

Things went downhill from there.

Shelby Pacheco laid down a squeeze bunt. The catcher Lauren Young tried to field the ball and get the runner at first, but threw it over the head of Joelle Krist, clearing the bases for the Utes, putting Pacheco on third base. The Utes ended the inning with five runs, making it a 7-2 game.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Arizona loaded the bases with no outs. Utah went to the bullpen for another pitching change, putting Hailey Hilburn in the circle. Alexis Dotson came up to the box and went down looking. Candrea made a change in the lineup, calling on freshman Monica Pasillas with one out. She was able to bring Tamara Statman home and move Lauren Young to third, finding herself on first with Mandie Perez up.

She would ground out to first, and that was the game, 7-3.

The Wildcats will go for the series win on Saturday, with the first pitch scheduled for 12:30.