It’s time to party likes it’s 2010 in Tucson. For the first time since that year, the Arizona Wildcats are heading to the Women’s College World Series. It’s the 23rd time the program has made it to softball’s pinnacle.
The biggest “up” from winning the Super Regionals is how pitcher Alyssa Denham has found a stride that makes the duo of her and Taylor McQuillin one of the toughest to face in Oklahoma City. Malia Martinez is hitting out of her mind, and it’s only making a fearsome top of the lineup more daunting for opposing pitchers.
A “down” comes from key juniors Jessie Harper and Reyna Carranco. The two combined to have two hits and one RBI against Ole Miss.
Denham, the No. 2 pitcher for UA, was asked to seal the deal for her team and get them back to the WCWS. She faced Ole Miss in game two of the Super Regionals and with some grit she avoided monstrous innings for the Rebels.
The junior gave up six hits in Saturday’s 9-1 win to clinch the WCWS bid.
Denham worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second and stranded two in the fifth. Her performance paired well with Friday’s effort by ace McQuillin.
The UA pitchers allowed two earned runs in their outings against the Rebels.
Nicknamed “Superstar” by her teammates, Martinez lived up to that moniker during Supers. The junior went going 6 for 8 over the weekend with a home run in the second game. Martinez is heading into the WCWS with the hottest bat on the team, which only adds more firepower to an already scorching top half of the lineup.
After committing one error and getting some funky hops on Friday, the UA defense was flawless in the finale. Harper, Martinez and the rest of the infield attacked the ball and were decisive with every play they made.
A steadfast defense only enhances the confidence McQuillin and Denham have heading to Oklahoma City.
Reyna still recovering
Fans were jubilant about Reyna Carranco returning to the lineup after a ball broke her left hand and right thumb a few weeks ago. The Pac-12 batting champion, however, still might be trying to find her groove.
Carranco had one hit and one RBI during Supers, an indication she’s still not quite 100—or even 80—percent healthy. But some rest before OKC may get her that much closer to better health.
Supers slump for Jessie Harper
Coming off a memorable regional performance, Harper’s Super Regional play was a 180.
Harper had one hit in the series didn’t drive in any of Arizona’s runs. Her bat is vital if the ‘Cats want to bring home their ninth national championship.
Although she didn’t get it done with bat against Ole Miss, Harper flashed the leather in game two, making SportsCenter-worthy plays.
Home runs hibernating
UA fans and softball fans in general know the ‘Cats can hit the ball out of the park. The ‘Cats have over 100 homers this season, but only had three in the Supers, which all came in game two.
The long ball wasn’t needed against Ole Miss, but fans would like to see the fireworks return in OKC.
It’s a nitpicking thing, yes, but Arizona has shown it can hit dingers like there’s no tomorrow. If the team can put together a balance of timely hitting and bombs, it can hang with every team in the WCWS.