On a rainy Friday evening in Seattle, Arizona softball’s bats were dampened by more than the Pacific Northwest climate.
Washington pitcher Gabbie Plain recorded 16 strikeouts and allowed just two hits as the Huskies topped the Wildcats 2-1 in each school’s Pac-12 opener.
Arizona (14-4) has now lost four of its last six games, and the story has been the same in every defeat: good enough pitching to win but an offense unable to carry the work done on the mound.
Following a brief rain delay, Arizona took the plate in the top first and went down 1-2-3 including strikeouts by Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Jessie Harper.
That set the stage for the rest of the night. The Wildcats lineup went through the first four innings without recording a hit.
Plain retired the side by way of three strikeouts in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. Every Arizona batter struck out at least once, while Sharlize Palacios and Malia Martinez each went down swinging three times.
Arizona’s lone run came in the fifth inning on a lead-off homer by Dejah Mulipola.
On the mound for Arizona, Mariah Lopez got the nod for her first career outing in Pac-12 conference play. Lopez allowed an unearned run in the first inning off a Janelle Meoño error, then gave up a solo homer in the bottom of the second.
Lopez struck out four Huskies and allowed six hits and one walk on the night.
Through 18 games and five contests against ranked opponents, a clear theme is emerging to Arizona’s 2021 season. The Wildcats can outslug inferior teams, often in run-rule fashion, but their offense shuts down once they face elite pitching.
Arizona will try to change that trend the rest of the series against Washington. The two teams square up for a double-header Saturday with the first game scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PT. Both games will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.