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Gina Snyder, Hanah Bowen lead Arizona softball past UCLA in regular-season finale

Meanwhile, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza exited with an injury

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

A couple of unsung heroes led Arizona softball to its biggest series win of the season.

Sparsely-used right-hander Gina Snyder pitched five strong innings and sophomore Hanah Bowen, starting at second for the injured Reyna Carranco, blasted her first career homer as the Wildcats beat third-ranked UCLA 3-1 on Saturday in Westwood.

Arizona finishes the regular season at 42-12 overall and 19-5 in the Pac-12, good for third place in the conference. UCLA and Washington—both 20-4—will share the Pac-12 title.

The Wildcats entered the series No. 4 in RPI and have done enough to earn a top-8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, meaning their road to the Women’s College World Series will only go through Tucson.

The selection show is Sunday at 6 p.m. MST on ESPN2.

The bad news is star center fielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza exited in the fifth inning after fouling a pitch off her face, though she is OK, according to the team’s Twitter account.

Fortunately, the foul tip glanced off her helmet before hitting her face, lessening the blow.

Bowen kicked off the scoring in the third by pulling a homer to left. A few batters later, Malia Martinez launched a two-run homer to left center, her 13th long ball of the season.

Arizona carried that 3-0 lead until the sixth when UCLA’s Bubba Nickles led off with a solo homer to end a stellar outing by Snyder, who allowed five hits while striking out three.

It was the redshirt senior’s first start since March 23 at Oregon State.

The Bruins did not put a runner in scoring position until the seventh when a bunt single by Kelli Godin moved Kinsley Washington (who walked) to second with two outs.

Alyssa Denham, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief, got Briana Perez to ground into a fielder’s choice to escape the jam.

With Godin only going 1 for 2, Carranco clinched the Pac-12 batting title. The UA second baseman was hitting .433 before breaking her hand last weekend. Godin hit .426 in the regular season.