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Arizona softball sweeps doubleheader at New Mexico State, but loses Rylee Pierce to injury

Rylee Pierce
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

The Arizona Wildcats swept New Mexico State in Tuesday’s doubleheader, but lost a key player in the process.

First baseman Rylee Pierce was hit by a pitch in the first inning of game one, causing her to be removed from the game. She then went on to sit out game two.

The severity of the injury is unclear. The Wildcats (17-5) are off until Friday when they begin a three-game home series against No. 1 Florida State, the reigning national champions.

The timing is rough for Pierce, who was just breaking out of an early-season slump. The senior went hitless in her first 15 at-bats, before she logged seven hits in her next 20 at-bats.

The Missouri transfer was an All-SEC player last season, and had started in 15 of 19 games entering Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Senior Joelle Krist, who got plunked in the fifth inning, took over for Pierce in game one, while Jessie Harper, usually the starting shortstop, started at first in game two. It was the junior’s first start at the position since she played there full-time as a freshman. Ivy Davis started in Harper’s spot at short.

The Wildcats cruised to two victories, handling NMSU 11-3 in six innings in game one and 11-1 in five innings in game two.

Arizona tallied 14 hits in the 11-3 win, scoring in every inning but the fourth. Harper went 4 for 4 with two homers and four RBI. She now leads the NCAA with 13 homers.

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Reyna Carranco drove in two runs apiece. Carranco homered in the sixth. Alyssa Denham (6-1, 3.11 ERA) pitched five innings of three-run ball before Hanah Bowen tossed a scoreless sixth.

Gina Snyder (2-0, 0.93 ERA) got the nod in game two and had a shutout going until she surrendered a solo homer with one out in the fourth.

Palomino-Cardoza gave Arizona an early lead by blasting a three-run homer in the second, her seventh of the season.

Arizona added eight more runs in the fifth, the highlights being an RBI groundout by Tamara Statman, a pinch-hit RBI single by Hillary Edior and a three-run double by Palomino-Cardoza, who was promptly doubled home by Carranco.

The Wildcats only needed six hits to plate 11 runs, thanks to four HBPs and two walks. They did not commit an error in either game.