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Oregon blanks Arizona softball in first game of Saturday doubleheader as struggles against ranked teams continue

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Arizona softball’s maddening struggles against quality teams continued Saturday as they were blanked 1-0 by No. 12 Oregon in the first game of the doubleheader.

It’s the third time the Wildcats have been shut out this season. They drop to 2-10 against ranked teams, averaging just 2.3 runs in those games.

Oregon lefty Brooke Yanez picked up her second win in as many days, allowing just four hits while racking up 12 strikeouts.

Haley Cruse delivered the game’s lone run in the fifth, lining an RBI double into the right-center gap. Before that, Alyssa Denham had done an admirable job of escaping jams, making big pitches to strand a runner on third in the third and fourth innings.

Deijah Pangilinan doubled with one out in the fifth and Cruse, the very next batter, followed it up with a gapper of her own for the game-winning RBI.

The Wildcats had plenty of opportunities to deliver a key hit but couldn’t come through, a recurring theme against ranked teams.

Jessie Harper banged a triple off the center field wall to lead off the second but Yanez retired the next three batters to prevent any damage. Harper doubled with one out in the fourth to advance Dejah Mulipola to third, but Yanez fanned Malia Martinez and Sharlize Palacios to extinguish the threat.

Arizona (33-10, 11-7) went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, dropping them to 11 for 76 (.150) on the season against ranked teams.

“It’s a work in progress trying to figure it out,” head coach Mike Candrea said on the Pac-12 Network. “[Yanez] is one of those kids with a late break. You just really have to get your eyes deep and you can’t try to do too much and I think sometimes we’re overswinging and we’re seeing the ball way too early and making decisions too early. So it’s trying to simplify things and it’s a game of patience—games like this, with a pitcher like that.”

The teams will return to action around 4:30 p.m. PT for the second game of the doubleheader, which will be counted as a non-conference game.

Ranked seventh in the coaches poll, Arizona is in desparate need of wins. Every loss weakens their case for a top-8 seed and they still have to host four games against No. 2 UCLA next weekend.

Arizona softball’s run totals in Pac-12 games vs. ranked teams:

  • at Washington - 1 (L)
  • at Washington - 2 (L)
  • at ASU - 3 (L)
  • at ASU - 1 (L)
  • at ASU - 3 (L)
  • at Oregon - 1 (L)
  • at Oregon - 0 (L)