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Alyssa Denham blanks Auburn as Arizona softball caps Mary Nutter Classic with win

COLLEGE SOFTBALL: MAY 05 Grand Canyon at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alyssa Denham has been inconsistent to start the 2020 season, but when she’s on, she’s really on.

The senior right-hander overcame some shaky defense to toss another shutout Saturday, as No. 5 Arizona blanked Auburn 2-0 in Palm Springs to wrap up the Mary Nutter Classic.

Denham (5-1, 2.27 ERA) has recorded four shutouts in eight starts this year, locking down the likes of No. 12 Tennessee, Long Beach State (no-hitter), San Diego State and now Auburn.

She’s also had some curious outings, like when she allowed five runs (four earned) in 4.1 innings of work against Northern Iowa and five runs in five innings against unranked Texas A&M.

But when Auburn (9-6) is in the opposing dugout, Denham always seems to be on top of her game. Last May, she was the winning pitcher in Arizona’s Tucson Regional-clinching victory over the Tigers. Denham allowed three runs that day, all unearned. More impressively, she notched 10 strikeouts and just one walk.

Saturday was a little different. Denham only allowed four hits (again), but walked two while striking out four. Arizona’s infield made three fielding errors, putting Denham in some dicey situations.

She always worked out of them, stranding 10 runners on base. After an error loaded the bases in the very first inning, Denham fanned Justus Perry to escape the jam.

Arizona’s offense only mustered two hits, plating a run in the third and fourth innings on sacrifice flies by Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Ivy Davis, respectively.

The first run was unearned. Janelle Meono reached on a slap single, stole second, and advanced to third when the second baseman muffed the catcher’s throw, Meono’s speed putting a lot of pressure on the defense.

Altogether, the Wildcats (12-3) went 3-2 in the Mary Nutter with wins over No. 18 Missouri, San Diego State, and Auburn as well as losses to Texas A&M and No. 7 Florida.

They are back on the road next weekend when they will head to Tuscaloosa for a pair of road games vs. No. 10 Alabama, a rematch from last year’s Women’s College World Series.

Arizona will also take on McNeese State (twice) and Texas-Arlington while in Tuscaloosa.

Head to our softball section for more coverage from the Mary Nutter Classic.