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Reyna Carranco hits grand slam as Arizona softball sweeps Oregon

The even-keeled junior bounced back from a costly error

Reyna Carranco
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Mike Candrea calls Reyna Carranco a “flatliner” because her emotions never run too high or too low.

“She’s got the same look all the time and sometimes you want to shake her to see if she’s got a pulse,” the UA coach joked. “But in tough situations that really comes in handy.”

No better example than Sunday. The junior second baseman made a costly two-run error in the third, but answered by clubbing a grand slam off the scoreboard in the fifth as No. 12 Arizona beat the Ducks 8-3 to complete the sweep.

“I try not to overreact to situations because the game is seven innings,” Carranco said. “My team picked me up when I made that mistake, so I just tried to do what I could to help everyone else out.”

Carranco’s bases-clearing blast broke the game open after Arizona fell behind because of her defensive miscue.

UA right-hander Alyssa Denham fanned the first two batters in the third, before a walk and a pair of singles loaded the bases for Oregon outfielder Shaye Bowden. The sophomore ripped a hard grounder to the right side that was too hot for Carranco to handle, allowing the Ducks to grab a 2-1 lead after Dejah Mulipola’s RBI double in the first gave UA an early lead.

Denham then walked another batter to reload the bases, which prompted Candrea to summon Taylor McQuillin from the bullpen. The senior got Rachel Cid to fly out to escape the jam.

“Unfortunately, Denham was just cruising along and walks the 9-hitter on four pitches and then boom, boom,” Candrea said. “None of the (singles) were hit hard, but still I just felt like she was losing it and made a change.”

Oregon’s lead was short-lived to say the least.

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza launched her 10th homer of the season to begin the home half of the inning, then Malia Martinez plated Carranco with an RBI double to put UA back on top.

Jenna Kean chopped an RBI groundout in the fifth to make it 4-2 and Carranco put the game out of reach by crushing her fourth homer of the season, a timely two-out hit.

“We got the key runs when we needed them and we never gave up,” McQuillin said. “That was the key to the game today. We didn’t play top Arizona (softball), but we did enough to win and shoutout to Reyna. ... That’s kind of the trend of Arizona softball right now. You mess up hitting, you mess up fielding, you pick yourself up on the other side.”

The Ducks put a runner in scoring position in each of the final four innings, but McQuillin was mostly able to dance out of danger. The lone blemish came in the seventh when Haley Cruse peppered an RBI single to right to pull the Ducks within five.

McQuillin (9-5) allowed the one run on six hits in 4 13 innings, while striking our four. The Wildcats outscored Oregon 16-0 in the first two games of the series, but were not as sharp in Sunday’s finale.

Maybe they were overlooking the Ducks, who have now lost nine straight.

“Taylor was not at her best obviously, so I told the team there’s a mentality that you have to have to be a great team,” Candrea said. “I call it Championship Sunday. You have to come out here when you have a chance to make a statement and make a statement. I thought they did a great job Friday and Saturday and maybe today they thought they were going to be in for a cakewalk, but I promise you no matter who we play from here on out, that’s never going to be the case. Hopefully they’ll learn from that, but I’m not going to take anything away from the three victories. Sweeps are good in this conference.”

Carranco had six hits in the series, upping her batting average to .452, the best mark on the team. The even-keeled No. 2 hitter talked to the Pac-12 Network after the game and Candrea joked with one of the producers that she might fall asleep during the interview.

“She’s that kind of kid,” he laughed. “And she’s going to have to be that person because there’s a lot of times this year that Palomino is going to get walked and it’s going to be in her hands. And I feel very comfortable putting it in her hands.”

Postgame interviews