Arizona coach Mike Candrea expected an upstart Stanford team to come to Hillenbrand Stadium and challenge the Wildcats, maybe even make them sweat in a tight game or two.
That didn’t happen, but he doesn’t mind the alternative.
The seventh-ranked Wildcats scored 12 runs in the third inning Saturday to run-rule Stanford 13-2 and end a series that was never close.
Arizona outscored the 24th-ranked Cardinal 29-3 in the three-game sweep. All three games were decided by seven or more runs.
“I can’t complain right now,” Candrea said. “Stanford came in here feeling really good about themselves, they’re a good ballclub and had been playing well, so I tip my hat to our kids that they were prepared and ready to go.”
The victory stretches the Wildcats’ winning streak to 20 games. They remain a flawless 15-0 in the Pac-12, the only unbeaten team in the conference.
“This team still has ways to go and that’s what’s really incredible.” said UA center fielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. “This isn’t our best. And when we’re at our best, it’s going to be scary.”
Palomino-Cardoza kicked off the big third inning by driving a 1-1 pitch off the batter’s eye and later drove in two more with a single to right. The Wildcats scored their 13 runs on nine hits and seven walks, getting contributions from the entire lineup.
“Their goal originally was to hammer us in, and I thought we did a pretty good job of taking that away,” Candrea said.
Malia Martinez went 2 for 3 with a two-run double and a grand slam. Jessie Harper was 2 for 2 with a two-run double. Rylee Pierce walked to bring in a run. Peanut Martinez and Reyna Carranco drove in runs via sacrifice flies.
Peanut also knocked in the game’s first run in the second inning when she singled up the middle to score Hillary Edior.
“When we get some production at the bottom like I’ve said all year, which we have been, we can put some runs on the board,” Candrea said.
Stanford rotated three pitchers, none were effective. All three gave up three or more runs.
“I like the way we’re playing,” Candrea said. “I thought we made some adjustments offensively and had some really good at-bats, playing good defense … I thought Taylor (McQuillin) threw well this weekend. Didn’t have her A-game, but she’s that good that she can find a way to win.”
McQuillin allowed one run over four innings to pick up her 17th win. She only needed 48 pitches to record 12 outs. The ninth out was special. Palomino-Cardoza charged in to make a diving catch to end the third inning.
“So much better than I felt on Thursday,” McQuillin said. “Pitches weren’t doing as great on Thursday and I was just trying to hit spots to get out of innings. Today, I came out a little bit stronger, pitches were moving my way and it helps that batters swung at pitches early in the count.”
The senior left-hander had a no-hitter until Stanford’s Emily Klingaman led off the fourth with a single to right. Kristina Inouye then tripled down the right-field line to plate Stanford’s first run.
McQuillin retired the next three batters to prevent further damage. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that she wasn’t as sharp after UA’s long 12-run inning.
“In the middle of that inning I was waiting for an out or two to happen and when it didn’t start happening I just came out (to the bullpen) and had Izzy (Pacho) warm me up just to stay loose,” McQuillin said.
Gina Snyder pitched the fifth and surrendered a solo homer and two singles before Carranco made a diving catch and doubled off the runner at second to end the game early.
It marked UA’s second straight run-rule victory and its 10th in conference play. The Wildcats have outscored their Pac-12 counterparts 143-14.
“Overall, today was a lot better,” McQuillin said. “Offensively, defensively and we got stronger as the weekend went on, and that’s what we needed.”
Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza went 2 for 3 with a homer and 2 RBI in @ArizonaSoftball’s 13-2 win vs. Stanford. It’s UA’s 20th win in a row: “This team still has ways to go and that’s what’s really incredible. This isn’t our best, and when we’re at our best it’s going to be scary.” pic.twitter.com/ozgKA4ofzc— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) April 20, 2019