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Arizona softball powers past USF to sweep Friday doubleheader in Tampa

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Jessie Harper homered twice and Alyssa Denham set a new career high in strikeouts

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats led the Pac-12 in homers last season and they are already making a strong push to retain that crown in 2019.

Jessie Harper went deep twice and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza homered for the second straight game as the Wildcats cruised past South Florida 4-1 to sweep Friday’s doubleheader in Tampa.

No. 7 Arizona (2-0) beat No. 19 Michigan earlier in the day, a torrid start to the 2019 campaign.

Palomino-Cardoza’s two-run blast put UA ahead 2-0 in the third, then Harper homered two batters later to give UA a three-run cushion. Harper launched another solo shot in the seventh.

Palomino-Cardoza (19) and Harper (18) were first and second in the Pac-12 in homers last season.

UA right-hander Alyssa Denham (1-0) went the distance in her first appearance of the season, allowing just three hits and two walks. The junior had 11 strikeouts, setting a new career high.

USF plated its lone run in the third when Riley Gore homered to right. Denham surrendered a walk and a single to begin the fourth, but coaxed two pop ups before fanning Gore to escape the jam.

Arizona loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth, but Missouri transfer Rylee Pierce struck out swinging to end the frame.

The Wildcats had seven hits and left 10 on base. They face their biggest test of the weekend Saturday morning when they take on the fifth-ranked Florida Gators in the first game of a doubleheader.

First pitch is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. MST. Arizona will then face Illinois State at 3:45 p.m. MST.