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Reyna Carranco out for ‘a while’ with broken thumb. Here’s how Arizona plans to replace her

Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Don’t ask Reyna Carranco for the winning lottery numbers. She has the worst luck.

For the third time in four years, a broken bone will keep Arizona’s All-American second baseman out for an extended period of time. The senior fractured the thumb on her throwing hand in practice before Thursday’s doubleheader and will be out for “a while,” according to head coach Mike Candrea.

Broken bones typically take four to six weeks to heal, meaning Carranco might be in jeopardy of missing Arizona’s Pac-12 opener at Washington on March 19. It’s probably best to keep her away from the Huskies anyway.

In 2018, a 70 MPH riseball from former Washington ace Taran Alvelo clocked Carranco in the face, breaking her nose and causing a concussion. A year later, Alvelo plunked Carranco in the hands, fracturing both of her thumbs and forcing her to miss part of the postseason.

Carranco did not suffer any injuries in 2020, but that season was stopped short because of the coronavirus pandemic. Go figure.

With her out of the lineup again, Arizona loses a career .363 hitter who has some pop and a pristine glove.

Just like in 2019, Hanah Bowen will be an option to replace Carranco (or at least do the best she can). The junior is a career .288 hitter who mostly hits singles and draws walks. A lot of them. She’s walked twice in three at-bats this season after coaxing seven in 33 plate appearances last season.

However, Bowen is also Arizona’s No. 3 pitcher—and just threw a no-hitter the other day—so she won’t always be available to fill Carranco’s void.

Enter Allie Skaggs.

The freshman went 1 for 2 with a walk in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader, her first career start and second career appearance. She also notched a pinch-hit single against New Mexico on Sunday.

“I was very impressed tonight,” Candrea said Thursday. “She did a good job, kept the game slow and made plays and had some good ABs. That’s a plus for us and she works very hard.”

Before joining the Wildcats, Skaggs was the 2019 Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year and the No. 13 recruit in her class, according to Extra Inning Softball.

In just three seasons at Ballard High School, Skaggs set school records in batting average (.492), on-base percentage (.561), slugging percentage (.955), hits (220), home runs (41) and doubles (50). She spent her senior year at Oro Valley’s Ironwood Ridge High School, where she hit .483 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 10 games before the season was cancelled.

“I think she’s got deceiving power at the plate and I think she’s improved a lot defensively, which was a big thing for us,” Candrea said. “And she comes to the ballpark ready to go. And that’s a compliment to her and the reason why I have confidence in her.”

An order change as well

With Carranco out of service, Candrea slid Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza down to Carranco’s No. 2 spot in the batting order. He then moved Janelle Meoño and Bella Dayton into APC’s leadoff spot in the first and second games of the doubleheader, respectively.

Those two speedsters were hitting ninth and flipping the lineup over to APC already, so Candrea felt bumping them to the top made more sense than moving everyone else up a spot. (Plus that’s a role he thinks Meoño will assume eventually.)

“It’s just an easy shift, not to shift everyone,” Candrea said. “And it also kept our lineup really good throughout the top to the bottom.”

Bowen hit ninth in her start Thursday, going 2 for 2 with a walk. Skaggs hit eighth. Unlike Carranco, both are right-handed hitters.