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Defense falters as Arizona falls to USF in first game at new Hillenbrand Stadium

Jessie Harper
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Taylor McQuillin fanned 16 batters, but a disastrous sixth inning sunk the Arizona Wildcats in a 4-1 loss to the USF Bulls on Friday in the first game at remodeled Hillenbrand Stadium.

USF (2-5) notched four unearned runs in the sixth. The Bulls broke the scoreless tie when a hard grounder skipped past UA shortstop Jessie Harper to plate a runner from second.

It was Harper’s second fielding error of the inning. The Bulls added three more runs by clubbing a sacrifice fly, RBI single and RBI double off McQuillin, who surrendered five hits and two walks.

Harper did her best to atone for her defensive miscues by launching a solo homer to center to lead off the home half of the sixth, but that was the only offense Arizona could muster.

The ninth-ranked Wildcats (3-3) were held to four hits and did not tally their first base knock until Jenna Kean singled to left with one out in the third. Kean, who singled again in the seventh, promptly stole second but Reyna Carranco popped out and Harper flew out to deep left to end the inning.

Arizona threatened again in the fifth, but Carranco popped out to strand two runners after the Bulls intentionally walked Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza for the second time.

The Wildcats, who beat USF in Tampa last weekend, left six runners on base and hit 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, though they had a few loud outs near the warning track.

Arizona is hitting .179 with runners in scoring position this season. The Wildcats host Illinois-Chicago in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. The first pitch will be thrown shortly before 8 p.m. MST.