The Drake Bulldogs came into Hillenbrand Stadium riding a five-game winning streak despite having yet to play a home game this season. Close losses against top-25 teams like Auburn and Arkansas proved that they were not to be taken lightly.
The Arizona Wildcats were up to the task, taking a 4-0 victory on the strength of 10 hits, including three homers. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza hit her sixth of the year and Dejah Mulipola blasted her fifth. T Statman launched her third round-tripper of the season.
“I think that a big key for our team right now is just coming out and getting some wins right now,” said Arizona pitcher Taylor McQuillin. “I think, especially in the new stadium, we wanted to come out and show up more this weekend than the last time we played here.”
McQuillin (4-4) threw a complete game shutout, giving up only two hits in seven innings. The lefty struck out 10 and walked four.
“Taylor didn’t have her best stuff tonight, but I think competed really well,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. “Gave us a chance to win, and that’s what it’s all about right now.”
After two-and-a-half uneventful innings, the Wildcats got on the board with a vengeance in the bottom of the third. With one out, Palomino-Cardoza sent a solo shot out to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. Reyna Carranco followed with a single to keep the rally going.
After a groundout by Jessie Harper, Mulipola stepped in to send a towering shot just over the right-center fence for the 3-0 lead.
“I think a big thing for us lately has been to kind of just keep it loose,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “Go back to our T-ball days and wiffleball days and just have fun. We just play to play the game. We’re getting back to that and I think that’ll be a good step for our team.”
Statman smacked a solo shot to center in the sixth to cap the scoring. The senior designated player is hitting .529 in 17 at-bats this season after struggling to break into the lineup last year. She also singled in the second.
“She’s a very intelligent young lady and she’s done a good job of being a student of the game,” Candrea said. “She understands the nuances of hitting. If you looked at her tonight, she had a plan. Her plan was to stay on top of things, and when she got on top of the rise ball, it went out of the ballpark.”
Missouri transfer Rylee Pierce had two base knocks, matching her season total.
The Wildcats will face Drake again on Friday at 4 p.m. MST at Hillenbrand Stadium. A match-up between Kent State and Arizona will follow at 6:15 p.m.