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Arizona sweeps Colorado State, Bryant to complete Hillenbrand Invitational

The Wildcats improve to 8-1 heading into the Mary Nutter Classic

Jessie Harper hit two homers in the win vs. Bryant
Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

The Arizona softball team completed the Hillenbrand Invitational on Sunday, defeating Colorado State and Bryant in a doubleheader to improve to 8-1 on the season.

Here are the recaps for each game. (The recaps from Saturday’s doubleheader can be found here.)

Game 1

Taylor McQuillin threw a one-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory over Colorado State.

The junior left-hander fanned 12 Rams, and had a perfect game until Tara Shadowen blooped a single into left with one out in the sixth.

That was the only baserunner Colorado State managed all game.

“I think everybody wishes that if there’s going to be a hit, it’s going to be a good one, but things happen,” said McQuillin, who improved to 5-1 with a 1.36 ERA. “But at the end of the day a win’s a win, so I’m happy with it.”

There was no score until the bottom of the fourth when T Statman ripped a double down the right field line, bringing home two runs.

Aleah Craighton would knock an RBI single into center to give UA a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

Arizona tallied eight hits, though first baseman Alyssa Palomino was the only Wildcat to have multiple base knocks. She was 2-for-2, and started the rally that led to Statman’s two-run double, leading off the fourth with a single up the middle.

Hillary Edior and Malia Martinez walked to load the bases, before Statman gave Arizona the lead. Statman pinch hit for left fielder Carli Campbell.

“It was good to see our bats wake up,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. “Confidence-wise it’s good to have a game like that walking into next week. It was a good weekend.”

Light rain started falling in the sixth, but it would quickly subside.

Game 2

The second game wasn’t nearly as close.

Arizona hit four homers and Hanah Bowen threw a one-hit shutout as the Wildcats routed Bryant University, 14-0, in five innings.

Bowen, a freshman right-hander making her home debut, struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

It was just Bowen’s second appearance of the season. She surrendered four runs in three innings in Arizona’s loss to No. 24 Oklahoma State last weekend in Tempe.

“I thought she threw really well today,” Candrea said. “She was working on all four planes, had great command. She hits spots. That’s the thing with her and she was throwing the ball 64 or 65 tonight. So yeah, she looked good.”

Bowen (1-0) said it felt “overwhelming” to pitch at Hillenbrand for the first time, but that she settled in quickly after the first pitch.

Getting plenty of run support helped, too.

“A weight off my shoulders,” Bowen said.

After a relatively quiet weekend, Arizona’s offense got going early and often against the Bulldogs, and never relented.

Dejah Mulipola hit a rocket off the left-field wall for an RBI double in the first, then a solo shot by Hillary Edior and a two-run bomb by Jessie Harper extended UA’s lead to 4-0 in the second.

Aleah Craighton hit an RBI single to make it 5-0 in the third, and Ivy Davis later roped a two-run double down the left field line to make it 7-0. Ashleigh Hughes then laced a single up the middle to make it 8-0.

The scoring didn’t end there.

Harper homered again in the bottom of the fourth to make it 9-0, and Joelle Krist followed that up with a hit a pinch-hit, two-run shot to left.

Later that same inning, Reyna Carranco added a two-run single, which Harper followed up with an RBI single of her own.

Harper was 3-for-4. Hughes also had three hits. Davis had two. The Wildcats finished with 14 as a team.

Candrea wasn’t happy with Arizona’s approach at the plate after Saturday’s double-header when Arizona only mustered six runs, but thought it was better Sunday when Arizona hit 9-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

“I thought we took some good hacks. It didn’t look like we were defensive,” Candrea said. “But that’s just part of the process. That’s why you play games. The more at-bats you get, the more comfortable you get.”

Arizona outscored its opponents 23-1 in the Hillenbrand Invitational, but it will face much stiffer competition next weekend.

The Wildcats are slated to play in the vaunted Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., where they will square off against North Carolina, Missouri, St. John’s, Cal State Northridge, and Oklahoma.

“Next week we’re going to (play) some very good, competitive teams,” Candrea said. “We’re going to have to execute offensively a little better. And what we’re missing right now is some of those key hits. We’d have runners on first and second with one out and pop up. But those games are (all about) pitching, defense, and timely hitting.

“So I thought it was good for us to get in some of those close games and learn how to win.”

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