Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza flashed one finger on her right hand and two on her left as Dejah Mulipola tapped home plate and retreated to the Arizona dugout with a host of happy teammates.
Three innings later, Palomino-Cardoza flashed a one and a three.
Mulipola’s 12th and 13th homers of the season propelled the Wildcats to an 8-0 run-ruling of Oregon on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The UA catcher is now tied for the Pac-12 lead in long balls, pulling even with Arizona shortstop Jessie Harper.
“She’s seeing it like a beach ball right now and putting good swings on good pitches and hitting the ball hard,” coach Mike Candrea said of the junior backstop. “Sometimes as a player you get into one of those modes where everything slows down and it looks kinda big. Sometimes it looks like an aspirin coming at you. So I hope she can keep it going.”
Mulipola has homered six times in her last five games, crediting improved patience and a clear mind for her hot streak.
“Even her takes are calm,” Candrea said. “She’s trusting her hands, she’s seeing the ball deep, she’s got a nice short swing from point A to point B. All the things you need to do. And I think a lot of that comes from when you face a lot of good pitching and you realize you have to be efficient. And right now she’s efficient, powerful and calm.”
Gina Snyder was efficient, too. The senior right-hander picked up her fourth win in as many starts, tossing four scoreless innings and striking out four, while allowing two hits and a walk.
“Everything inside worked pretty well and I had my changeup and my (fastball),” Snyder said.
Arizona’s pitching staff was erratic last weekend against No. 1 Florida State, walking 15 batters in three games, but the Wildcats have only issued one free pass in two games against Oregon.
“She had a little more control this week,” Mulipola said of Snyder. “She was a little more calm in the circle. I think she was more confident and that really helped her out.”
Snyder (4-0, 1.22 ERA) was relieved in the fifth by freshman Marissa Schuld, who logged a scoreless frame in her first Pac-12 appearance.
“(Snyder) had a good performance, and it was nice to get Marissa in and get her feet wet,” Candrea said. “Gina’s doing a good job right now. She’s someone that no one’s seen, so that can be a good thing for us.”
Both Snyder and Candrea agreed it was important to cut Snyder’s outing short so that she can stay as fresh as possible, mentally and physically, moving forward.
“The biggest thing is this gets to be a grind,” Candrea said. “So anytime you can save an inning here and there, especially Taylor (McQuillin), you’ve seen what happened in the past when we tried to ride her too much. ... I hope that we can continue to utilize our entire staff. It’s really what I’d like to do and it’s a benefit for us and I believe in all of them.”
Though with the way Arizona’s offense is humming right now, they seemingly could put anyone in the circle and still come out on top. The Wildcats have scratched 16 runs and 22 hits in 11 innings against the Ducks, run-ruling them in both games.
Mulipola’s first homer, a three-run laser to right field, gave UA a 3-0 lead in the first. Her fourth-inning blast, a high drive to center, made it 4-0.
Later in that frame Jenna Kean pulled a three-run homer down the right-field line to give UA a seven-run cushion, the slapper’s first tater of the season. Rylee Pierce then delivered the walk-off hit in the fifth by shooting an RBI single through the left side.
The Wildcats (20-7) will go for the sweep Sunday at noon, looking for a 3-0 start in conference play. The Ducks (11-12) have lost eight straight.
“We’ve been really strong offensively and I think we just have to keep that going into Pac,” Mulipola said. “We can’t get too big-headed. Tomorrow could be a new game for Oregon.”
Hear what Mike Candrea said after Arizona Softball run-ruled Oregon for the second straight dayPosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, March 16, 2019
Dejah Mulipola homered twice Saturday in @ArizonaSoftball’s 8-0 win vs. Oregon. She is now tied for the Pac-12 lead with 13 homers: “We’ve been really strong offensively and I think we just have to keep that going into Pac. We can’t get too big-headed.” pic.twitter.com/iAlc72OiqV— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) March 16, 2019