Arizona Wildcats head coach Caitlin Lowe wanted her team to put things together. They weren’t playing defense, hitting the ball, and pitching well all at the same time. That trend continued in a 9-2 home loss to ASU on Friday.
“I think we’re trying to find ourselves and what this team looks like one through 18 competing together,” Lowe said on Wednesday. “And we’ve found our pitching in some weekends. We’ve found our hitting in some weekends, our defense in some weekends, and it’s really about how can we put all those pieces together to become a great team.”
The Wildcats were as effective as the Sun Devils in the batter’s box. Both teams got seven hits. Both teams hit two for extra bases—including a home run by Arizona. The difference was how effective they were getting runners into scoring position and knocking them in once they got there.
ASU got seven baserunners to third base with less than two outs. Five of those runners scored. UA only accomplished that task once, and the runner stayed put.
That Arizona runner was part of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the first inning. The second out came on a shallow flyout off the bat of Izzy Pacho. It did not get deep enough for the run to score. The threat ended with a groundout from Blaise Biringer.
The Wildcats broke through in the bottom of the third. Allie Skaggs started a two-out rally with a single on an 0-2 pitch. Carlie Scupin hit the next pitch out of the park, pulling Arizona within one with a two-run homer.
“My first at-bat, I was fouling off a lot of pitches, so she was coming in and out,” Scupin said. “So, I kind of just had to pick a side and I knew she would bring it up at some point, so I was looking for that.”
Skaggs and Scupin provided the bulk of the offense. They both went 2-for-3 at the plate. The rest of the lineup went 3-for-21 with one walk.
Arizona used three pitchers, starting with redshirt senior Hanah Bowen. Bowen did not pitch last weekend at UCLA after being in a car accident, but she was back in the circle to start the final rivalry series of her career.
“Just a little car accident,” Lowe said. “So she was unavailable at UCLA. She’s a little banged up. She’s had a rough month.”
Bowen, Madi Elish, and Jessie Fontes combined to throw 58 balls and 78 strikes compared to ASU’s Morgan Mac and Marissa Schuld, who threw just 27 balls versus 74 strikes. The Wildcats issued five walks.
The defense wasn’t able to pick up its pitchers. Arizona committed four errors and had some mental hiccups, as well. Two of the nine runs were unearned.
“When you play the game, and it’s fun, it’s because you’re feeding off each other, and we’re not quite there yet,” Lowe said. “I think we have it in us and we have the tools. It’s just we need to be able to play the game and feed off each other instead of worrying about our own performances.”
Lowe does not believe that focus on personal performance is due to selfishness. Her concern is that her players are pressing in an effort to produce for the team.
Arizona and ASU will face off again on Saturday at 5 p.m. MST/PDT. The game will air on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Arizona.