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Alyssa Denham’s second no-hitter propels Arizona softball past Long Beach State

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Photo by Ryan Kelapire

Senior right-hander Alyssa Denham entered elite company in Sunday’s 6-0 win vs. Long Beach State, becoming the first Arizona pitcher since Taryne Mowatt to throw two seven-inning no-hitters in her career.

Mowatt, now UA’s pitching coach, called both games from the dugout.

“I’m happy for her because that’s tough to do no matter who you’re playing,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “It’s fun to see her get in the club.”

A club that includes legends like Jennie Finch, Alicia Hollowell, and Susie Parra.

Denham threw her first career no-hitter last March at Oregon State. Her latest was the 93rd in program history.

“I don’t think they ever get old,” she smiled. “Next time I pitch I’m going to try to get another one. It’s definitely a great feeling but it’s not only me, it’s the defense.”

Denham struck out seven and faced two over the minimum, hitting a batter in the first inning and walking another in the second.

She was extremely efficient, only needing 87 pitches to record 21 outs. Eleven of them were groundouts, as Denham mostly attacked the zone with sharp dropballs.

“I threw a little bit of everything,” she said. “Up, down, offspeed. I got to work on all my pitches.”

There were no signs of fatigue as Denham neared the finish line. She retired 16 straight to complete the no-no.

No nerves, either.

Before Denham trotted out to the circle in the seventh, she issued some brief instructions to freshman catcher Sharlize Palacios.

“I was like, ‘we gotta shut this down right now,’” Denham said.

She did it swiftly, throwing just 10 pitches in the final frame, including a four-pitch strikeout for the final out.

“Wonderful,” Candrea said. “She just threw some pitches when she needed to. She had some 3-2 counts but...I thought [the umpire’s] strike zone was fairly wide and low, which fits right into her, and she did a good job.”

It was just the second time Denham has been paired with Palacios, a freshman catcher making her third career start. The first outing didn’t go nearly as well, with Denham surrendering five runs in 4.1 innings in a win over Northern Iowa.

They learned from it.

“She told me to make some adjustments for her,” Palacios said. “She likes when I stay lower on the ball, she’s a drop-ball pitcher, so I was trying to stay lower and frame the ball as best I could.”

Denham (3-0) lowered her season ERA to 2.48. She and Mariah Lopez have been Arizona’s 1A and 1B in the circle, both logging roughly 30 innings so far.

Lopez has certainly held up her end of the bargain, posting a 0.84 ERA, and Denham’s no-hitter illustrates the staff’s potential when both are clicking.

“We need [Denham] to throw full games like that, and I think she did awesome, and I think this will be good for us,” said senior Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza.

Arizona (9-1) spotted Denham a four-run lead in the first on an error, a two-run single by Jessie Harper, and an RBI single by Ivy Davis.

Palomino-Cardoza shot a double down the right field line to make it 5-0 in the fourth and Palacios clubbed her first career homer, a towering shot to right field, in the fifth to cap the scoring.

The freshman made her long-awaited debut this weekend after being sidelined for almost a month with a broken left thumb. Candrea said Palacios’ opposite-field power is a staple of her game.

“It was awesome,” Palacios said. “I’ve been working really hard to come back and I was just itching at my chance...and I’m happy to be here with the team, and I was happy to cheer them on the weekend before, but it’s a lot more fun to be able to catch and hit.”

Especially when you have a hand in a no-hitter.

“Alyssa was just on her game, always is,” Palacios said. “She’s a quiet competitor and she puts her all into the game, and I love catching for her.”

Palacios gave Denham a quick hug after squeezing the final strike. Otherwise the postgame celebration was subdued, a reflection of Denham’s confidence.

“She’s a lot more mature, a lot more composed,” Candrea said. “She’s where she needs to be right now.”

Postgame interviews

Alyssa Denham

Here’s Alyssa Denham after throwing a no-hitter vs. Long Beach State

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, February 16, 2020

Mike Candrea

Here’s Mike Candrea on Alyssa Denham’s no-hitter, Arizona’s win vs. Long Beach, playing Team USA on Tuesday, and more

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sharlize Palacios

Freshman catcher Sharlize Palacios caught Alyssa Denham’s no-hitter and hit her first career homer in Sunday’s win vs. Long Beach State

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, February 16, 2020

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza

Here’s CF/1B Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza on Alyssa Denham’s no-hitter, the win over Long Beach State, and more

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, February 16, 2020