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Offense struggles as Arizona softball falls to No. 7 Florida in Mary Nutter Classic

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Kendyl Lindaman did what the Arizona Wildcats struggled to do: get the timely hit.

The Florida first baseman’s RBI single in the sixth propelled the seventh-ranked Gators to a 3-2 win over No. 5 Arizona on Friday in Palm Springs.

The Wildcats (11-3) outhit the Gators 8-6 but left 10 on base, hitting 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Their only base knock came in the fifth when freshman catcher Sharlize Palacios looped an RBI single into right to knot the game at 1-all.

That score did not hold very long, as Florida’s Hannah Adams led off the home half of the frame with a solo homer down the right-field line.

It was the second of two solo homers surrendered by Mariah Lopez, whose day ended there. Lopez permitted just three hits in four innings but walked three and only had one strikeout. Charla Echols homered to right center in the third to give the Gators the early advantage.

Lopez was relieved by Alyssa Denham, who immediately got into a jam, when a walk and single put runners on the corners with nobody out in the fifth.

Denham coaxed a strikeout, fielder’s choice and popout to escape unscathed. She could not work her magic in the sixth when Lindaman stroked a two-out RBI single up the middle to plate the game-winning run.

Denham allowed three hits and three walks, the free passes piling up for the Wildcats’ pitchers.

The Gators (13-1) did their best to give the game away in Arizona’s half of the sixth, committing back-to-back throwing errors to allow Bella Dayton to score the tying run after she and Janelle Meono reached on infield singles.

Then it was Arizona who had bad luck. Reyna Carranco lined into a double play to end the frame, stranding Meono, the potential go-ahead run, at third.

The Gators were dead set on not letting Jessie Harper beat them, intentionally walking the NCAA’s reigning home-run queen twice after she clubbed her fifth homer of the season vs. San Diego State earlier in the day.

Palacios made them pay with her RBI single, continuing to swing the bat well ever since she returned from a broken thumb last weekend. The freshman has eight hits and five RBI in 19 at-bats, including a homer and two walks.

Marissa Schuld extended her hitting streak to nine games with a leadoff single in the fourth. Arizona got the leadoff hitter aboard in each of the first five innings, thanks in part to two hits by Palomino-Cardoza, who scored on Palacios’ single.

The Wildcats wrap up the Mary Nutter Classic on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. MST vs. Auburn. Arizona is 2-2 in the tournament, with wins over No. 18 Missouri and San Diego State along with losses to Florida and Texas A&M.

Check out our softball section for recaps of those games.