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Arizona softball drops series opener at ASU, loses Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza to injury

Photo via Pac-12 Network broadcast

TEMPE — Arizona softball lost a nail-biter to ASU and their All-American center fielder to injury in Friday’s series opener at Farrington Stadium.

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza grounded out to shortstop with the bases loaded as the Sun Devils escaped with a 4-3 win, and she immediately tumbled to the ground after running through first base on the bang-bang play.

As ASU celebrated the final out, APC clutched her knee for several minutes before being helped up and off the field by trainers. Stunned, the entire Arizona team stood and watched from the outfield grass. Coaches and players were unavailable for comment after the game, so there won’t be an update on APC’s status for at least another day.

A sixth-year senior, Palomino-Cardoza has had an injury-riddled career already, tearing both ACLs at Arizona. She tore her right ACL prior to the 2016 season and her left ACL in the postseason in 2017.

Before the tragic ending, the Wildcats were mounting a rally. A single and double by Reyna Carranco and Dejah Mulipola put the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with one out.

The Sun Devils intentionally walked Jessie Harper to get to Sharlize Palacios despite her homering earlier in the night. Palacios struck out on a wicked offspeed pitch before APC’s game-ending groundout.

It’s ASU’s first win over the Wildcats in six tries. It also snaps UA’s 12-game winning streak.

ASU (26-10, 6-6) scored a run in each of the first four innings. UA starter Alyssa Denham struggled with her command and allowed a solo homer in the first, an RBI double in the second and walked in a run in the third. She was relieved by Hanah Bowen, who got a strikeout to dance out of a bases-loaded jam.

Palacios crushed a two-run moonshot to left to bring Arizona within 3-2 in the fourth but Bella Loomis answered in. the bottom of the frame with a monster shot to left center, the only damage done against Bowen in 3.2 innings of work.

Arizona (26-6, 6-3) got a run back in the sixth when Malia Martinez roped a sacrifice fly to left. It could have done more damage but Makenna Harper, Jessie’s younger sister, stretched near the warning track to make an acrobatic grab for the second out.

Had the liner gotten past her, pinch runner Giulia Koutsoyanopulos might have been able to score the tying run from first. The Wildcats had trouble getting the big hit all night, stranding nine runners on base.

The Sun Devils used a combination of freshman Allison Royalty and sophomore Lindsay Lopez in the circle.

Arizona and ASU will continue the series Saturday with a doubleheader that begins at 5 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Network.

If APC has to miss time, the Wildcats will likely move left fielder Janelle Meoño to center field, flip Bella Dayton from right field to left field and start Peanut Martinez in right field.

Meoño led off Friday’s game with a double to extend her hitting streak to 16 games. She leads the team with a .458 average. Dayton and Martinez are both hitting under .270 with three homers between the two of them.

Before getting injured, APC was hitting .337 with six homers. She has never made an error in center field.