TEMPE — Marissa Schuld’s first career homer lifted No. 5 Arizona to a 6-3 win over Portland State in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at the Kajikawa Classic.
Schuld’s two-run bomb to left snapped a 3-3 tie in the fourth. Two innings later, the sophomore from nearby Pinnacle High School roped an RBI double to right-center, finishing with two hits and three RBI in her season debut.
The Wildcats (3-0) will wrap up the day at 11:30 a.m. MST vs. Western Michigan.
“I was just trying to relax, most importantly,” Schuld told the Pac-12 Network. “I saw Izzy (Pacho) get on and I just tried to see the ball, hit the ball, and it just happened to be a home run. ... I take extra reps before and after practice and I think that’s helped me a lot.”
Schuld’s timely hitting buoyed 4.1 dominant innings of relief by Alyssa Denham, who picked up her first win of the season after struggling in her season debut Friday vs. Seattle.
The senior entered in the third after Hanah Bowen served up a game-tying single. The junior lasted 2.2 innings in her season debut, allowing three runs on four hits with zero strikeouts.
Denham permitted just one hit while striking out two.
First pitch was thrown at 9 a.m. MST but Arizona’s bats were wide awake by then. The Wildcats, the designated road team, hit for the cycle in the first inning, with Reyna Carranco tripling, Jessie Harper singling, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza homering, and Malia Martinez doubling to provide an early 3-0 cushion.
Carranco, Harper, and Martinez all finished with two hits, another strong showing for the seniors who carried Arizona to its first two wins on Friday.
The Vikings were led by Darian Lindsey, who drove in all three runs. She clubbed a two-run homer to left in the first to cut Arizona’s lead to 3-2, then tied things up in the third by shooting a single up the middle, ending Bowen’s day.
Arizona made some major alterations to its lineup, with Schuld (DP), freshman Bella Dayton (LF), and junior Jenna Kean (RF) making their first starts of the season, batting seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively. Palomino-Cardoza also made her first start at first base after spending Friday in center field.
Kean reached on a bunt single in the third but was caught stealing later in the frame. Dayton, another speedy slapper, went 0 for 3.
Pacho singled to right in the fourth, tying Martinez for the team lead with five hits, so far doing an admirable job filling in for Dejah Mulipola behind the plate.
“She’s been seeing the ball well too,” said Schuld, a two-time Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year. “Even though I’m not an everyday starter I just try to take advantage of every opportunity to help my team out.”