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New-look Arizona softball takes the field for the first time in fall season

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Freshman shortstop Tayler Biehl and junior second baseman Allie Skaggs warm up between innings on Oct. 20, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Fall ball isn’t about the wins and losses. Arizona softball plays its fall exhibition schedule against several Arizona community colleges, so lopsided scores are par for the course. What fall is about is allowing the group of new Wildcats to take the field together and get experience playing an opponent for the first time. That was accomplished on Thursday night.

The Wildcats defeated the Pima Community College Aztecs 25-0 in a game dominated by the power of Carlie Scupin. The junior had two three-run home runs and accounted for seven RBI over the course of the evening.

Arizona found time to play 16 of the 17 players on the roster with only junior shortstop Sophia Carroll not taking the field for the first game. Carroll was replaced at shortstop by freshman Tayler Biehl, the niece of Wildcat great Janae Leles.

Carroll not being in her usual place at shortstop was not the only change for the Wildcats. There were new faces in the dugout and familiar faces in new spots all over the diamond.

Izzy Pacho came to Arizona primarily as a catcher but had her breakout season at third base last season. It appears that she will finally have her dream come true for her fifth season as a Wildcat. She was behind the plate as the fall (and presumed spring) starter.

Pacho also had a good day at the plate. She started the game by forcing a run across with a walk in the bottom of the first. In the next inning, she knocked a run in with a single. Another single was followed by a solo home run to end her day 3-for-3 at the plate.

Sophomore Blaise Biringer moved into the vacated spot at third base. Biringer was primarily a designated player last season, but changes to the roster have opened her natural position. She made good use of the opportunity, hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Arizona went with a 10-player lineup that included hitting by both the designated player and the starting pitcher. Junior Devyn Netz was strong in the circle and in the batter's box. Netz pitched four innings, giving up one walk, no hits, and no runs before being lifted to give innings to the rest of the pitching staff.

Netz was also effective when she got to swing the bat. She knocked in two with a line drive to left field before being robbed of a home run by a great play from the PCC centerfielder.

Netz eventually retired to the dugout to give transfers Brianna Hardy and Ali Blanchard their time in the circle. Both had relatively uneventful innings before giving way to heralded freshman Sydney Somerndike for the final inning.

Somerndike was described by pitching coach Taryne Mowatt-McKinney as a “strikeout pitcher” last season. She lived up to that billing, although she didn’t do it by blowing by batters. Instead, she struck out three of the four batters she faced while hovering between 60 and 63 miles per hour.

Somerndike worked to change the batters’ eye level, going up and down in the zone against the first batter before striking her out with one just outside. She struck out both of her first two batters on three straight pitches.

The Wildcats will get their next chance to work on coalescing as a group on Thursday, Oct. 27. They will face South Mountain at 4:30 p.m. MST followed by Central Arizona at 6:30 p.m. MST.