In front of a standing-room-only crowd, Arizona softball run ruled No. 1 Florida State 11-3 at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium Saturday evening.
Senior Gina Snyder delivered five strong innings on the mound while she watched her cushion grow and grow by way of an electric night at the plate from the Wildcats’ lineup.
Arizona evened the series at one game apiece and picked up a hallmark victory that could propel the program the rest of the spring. It was Arizona’s first win over a top-10 team this season, and the first time the top-ranked Seminoles have been run-ruled since March of 2015.
“I think all of us proved that we can do it,” Snyder said. “If that’s number one, then hey we just run-ruled them. I knew we could do it, and now we’ve just got everything working at the same time.”
Arizona jumped on the Seminoles early, scoring three runs in the first inning and four more in the second to take a 7-1 advantage.
Leading 9-3 in the bottom of the fifth, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza drilled a walk-off two run single to clinch the win. It came a night after the Wildcats lost 5-3 and seemed to be intimidated by the reigning national champions.
“The only thing I told them is to clear their minds and play the game,” said UA coach Mike Candrea. “Quit worrying so much. ... Obviously this (game) puts pressure on you and one of the things you have to learn how to do is handle pressure.”
Snyder, a Tucson native and Purdue transfer, made the most memorable start of her Wildcats career. After giving up a solo home run in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third, she settled into a groove despite lacking some of her best command. Snyder walked five Florida State batters but managed to evade much damage.
In the top of fifth, the Seminoles had the bases loaded with two outs, but Snyder induced a one-pitch pop up to stomp out the threat.
“Gina stayed focused the whole time,” Candrea said. “I thought her velocity wasn’t quite where it usually is, but it’s a feather in her cap that she can go out there with her C-game and beat a good team.”
Much of the defensive credit goes to center fielder Palomino-Cardoza, who made a number of important catches in the outfield.
With one out in the top of the first and a runner on first, Palomino-Cardoza made a sprinting catch on the warning track, then doubled up the runner at first. In the third inning, she made a diving catch to save what was an otherwise sure base hit.
“Palomino was sick today, but she had a hell of a game to say the least,” Candrea said. “She’s very capable of doing that.”
At the plate, Arizona produced 11 runs off 12 hits in what was one of the team’s best offensive outings of the season.
Jessie Harper got the scoring going in the first inning on a hard liner underneath the FSU shortstop’s glove to score Reyna Carranco. Dejah Mulipola then hit a towering two-run homer to bring the score to 3-1.
The second inning played out much like the first, as Harper drove in a pair on a single followed by another Mulipola home run. The Wildcats expanded the score in the third inning on a two-run single by Carranco.
“What helps was the run production which helps a pitcher breathe and relax,” Candrea said. “When you’re in a 0-0 game, one mistake can be magnified. When you have a little bit of wiggle room, it makes it a little bit easier.”
A full house of 2,841 fans were in attendance Saturday, including approximately 100 softball alumni. Members of the 1979, ’89, ’99, and ’09 teams were all honored before the game.
Olympians Jennie Finch and Leah O’Brien-Amico threw out the opening pitches. Finch also delivered an inspiring pregame speech.
“She said if you have your C-game, make it work with your C-game and honestly I had my C-game ... and made it happen,” Snyder said.
“We have such a big support system here this weekend and honestly this weekend is for them,” Palomino-Cardoza added. “Just coming out and knowing that we can (play) Arizona softball like they had before us, that’s what we had to do.”
Here is what Mike Candrea had to say about Arizona Softball’s 11-3 win over No. 1 Florida StatePosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, March 9, 2019
Starting pitcher Gina Snyder on Arizona Softball’s win vs. No. 1 Florida State: “All of us proved that we could do it. If that’s No. 1, hey, we just run-ruled them.”Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, March 9, 2019
Here’s Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza on Arizona Softball’s 11-3 win over No. 1 Florida State in which she had the walk-off hit and two great catches in center fieldPosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, March 9, 2019