It look longer than anyone in the Arizona softball program wanted, but the Wildcats finally have their first Pac-12 series victory of the season.
Arizona’s bats exploded Saturday afternoon in a 12-4 run-rule victory over Oregon, while Devyn Netz silenced the Ducks offense for most of the day.
Arizona (23-15, 4-11 Pac-12) got the scoring started early when Sharlize Palacios hit a two-run homer in the first inning, immediately followed by a solo shot from Allie Skaggs.
Arizona extended its lead in the third when Blaise Biringer drove in one on a sac fly.
Oregon finally got to Netz in the fourth inning, as Paige Sinicki hit a sac fly to give the Ducks their first run, followed by a two-run homer from Hanna Delgado that cut the lead to one.
Netz struck out five over four innings. conceding seven hits and one walk.
Arizona’s offense responded in the bottom of the frame with five runs. Palacios earned a bases loaded walk, then two batters later Izzy Pacho hit a double to left field, scoring two. Palacios scored on a passed ball, followed by an RBI double from Biringer.
Oregon got one back in the top of the fifth on a homer off the bat of Terra McGowan. Hanah Bowen relieved Netz following the homer and recorded three quick outs, two of them strikeouts.
Entering the bottom of the fifth up five, the Wildcats needed three runs to earn a run-rule. They got them courtesy of a two-run single from Palacios and a walk-off sac fly from Skaggs.
Palacios finished the day three for three with five RBI and two runs.
“I was just seeing everything really well,” Palacios told Pac-12 Network. “I was really zoned in and just trying to get my foot down on time.”
Palacios has seen her batting average improve from .197 to .286 over Arizona’s last three series. In the last seven games, Palacios is batting .550 with five home runs and 14 RBI.
“I want to say (my start) was one of the hardest things I had to go through, but I think it definitely elevated me as a player,” Palacios said. “I just have to keep learning and going through these waves. I feel like one thing I did really appreciate was try to be an unwavering teammate to these awesome girls.”
The series win also takes some pressure off first-year coach Caitlin Lowe and her staff.
Prior to Sunday, Arizona’s last conference series victory came against California in early May 2021.
The Wildcats will look to carry the momentum from this weekend to a Tuesday home double-header against UTEP. Arizona then travels to Utah next weekend to face an overachieving Utes squad.