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Alyssa Denham, huge 5th inning power Arizona softball’s run-rule win at USF

COLLEGE SOFTBALL: MAR 07 Boise State at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For four innings Saturday evening, No. 2 Arizona softball found itself in a pitcher’s duel with South Florida. Then the bats woke up.

The Wildcats scored nine runs in the fifth inning while Alyssa Denham pitched another gem to lead Arizona to a 11-1 run-rule road victory against the Bulls. Arizona moves to 11-0 on the year with nine of those victories coming by run-rule.

Denham was two outs shy of recording her third career no-hitter but conceded a double followed by two singles as USF attempted a late rally.

By the time the Bulls got to Denham, Arizona had already put the game on ice thanks to a prolific top of fifth that included three two-out home runs.

Malia Martinez started the scoring in the fifth with an RBI sac fly, which pushed the lead to 3-0. Freshman Sharlize Palacios then hit a three-run homer to deep left center, forcing USF to go to the bullpen.

Three batters later, freshman Allie Skaggs knocked in her first career homer, a three-run shot. Skaggs, the 2019 Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year, also recorded her first career RBIs. She was starting at second base in place of the injured Reyna Carranco.

The scoring continued two batters later as Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza drilled a two-run homer to straight away to make it 11-0.

Arizona’s first run of the game came in the opening inning on a RBI grounder by Malia Martinez. The Wildcats doubled their lead the next inning on a bloop single courtesy of Janelle Meoño.

On the mound, Denham pitched a nearly flawless first four innings, allowing just one baserunner via walk. The two-out run Denham allowed in the bottom of the fifth marked just the second earned run she’s given up all season.

Stretching back to last spring’s shortened season, Arizona has now won 22 consecutive games. Saturday was the team’s first road victory since March 1, 2020, when they beat Texas-Arlington 9-1 (6) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as part of the Easton Crimson Classic.

The Wildcats face USF Sunday at 11 a.m. before heading to Orlando to face No. 22 UCF on Monday.