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Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza powers Arizona softball past Oregon in Pac-12 opener

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza’s towering sixth-inning homer still hasn’t crashed down to Earth, and it never will.

The UA center fielder went yard twice Friday, including a three-run moonshot that landed on Gittings Gym, as Arizona powered its way to an 8-0 win over Oregon to open Pac-12 play.

“Oh my God she put a hurt on that one,” said longtime Arizona coach Mike Candrea. “I don’t think I’ve seen a ball hit that far. ... That ball was still going up when it was going on the roof.”

Palomino-Cardoza is believed to be the fifth-ever Wildcat to land a homer on Gittings Gym, a multistory building that sits about 40 feet beyond the right field wall.

“Since me being here, that’s probably the farthest ball I’ve seen,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “I hit my first one (on the roof) in (batting practice) today and I was so excited — and then that happened.”

The tape-measure homer was Palomino-Cardoza’s ninth of the season. She also launched a solo shot to right-center in the third.

“It was the best one I’ve seen her hit so far, and I’ve seen Alyssa hit a ton,” said UA ace Taylor McQuillin, who was teammates with Palomino-Cardoza at Mission Viejo High School. “She hit one like that in high school and it went really, really far. But that one (Friday) off the bat, everybody was like ‘Oh my God.’

“But that’s what she does. That’s Alyssa for you. If you ask if she can hit it farther, the answer is yes. She’s going to go out there, take her cuts and pick a good pitch to clear the fence or building or anything.”

It didn’t matter that Palomino-Cardoza is under the weather. The redshirt junior has been battling laryngitis and costochondritis for the last week, afflicting her with headaches and a painful cough. Her voice was so raspy during her postgame interview that it was barely audible.

“I think she’s feeling a little bit better,” McQuillin joked.

McQuillin (8-5, 1.41 ERA) limited the Ducks to two hits, while striking out eight and walking none in her first appearance since last Friday when she walked seven in a loss to No. 1 Florida State.

“Last week I didn’t do a good job locating pitches on the plate, so coming in tonight my goal was to attack early or battle back if I got behind early in the count and just trust my defense,” McQuillin said.

Dejah Mulipola and Rylee Pierce also homered for the Wildcats, while Peanut Martinez and Malia Martinez each drove in a run. Pierce finished with three hits while Palomino-Cardoza, Mulipola, and Reyna Carranco had two apiece.

The Wildcats improve to 19-7 and host Oregon again Saturday at 2 p.m. PT

“It was a good game,” Candrea said. “Taylor looked good, we scored some runs, we made some mental mistakes on the bases, we probably left a couple runs out there, but I’m not going to complain.”

Not the same Ducks

The Ducks (11-11) are the reigning Pac-12 champions, but have now lost seven of their last eight, looking like a shell of their former selves.

That kind of regression is expected this season. Oregon suffered an incredible amount of roster turnover after former head coach Mike White left for Texas last summer.

The Ducks lost their entire pitching staff and a bevy of key position players to transfer, leaving new head coach Melyssa Lombardi with a young, inexperienced roster that will be lucky to crack the top half of the conference.

“This is the culmination of that transfer portal and I really feel bad for her, but she’s a good coach and she’ll get things (turned) around and they’ll be back,” Candrea said. “There’s no doubt.”

“But I’m not going to be too kind,” he quipped. “We have two more games. Talk to me on Monday.”

Postgame interviews