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Sharlize Palacios breaks through, lifts Arizona softball to victory with walk-off home run

sharlize-palacios-breaks-through-lifts-arizona-softball-victory-walk-off-home-run Photo by Ryan Kelapire

It’s true of any team, but this year’s Arizona softball team has learned the lesson especially well. It takes everyone working together to win. That’s exactly how the Wildcats put an end to the historic eight-game losing streak they were on with a 10-9 victory over Washington.

Arizona used three pitchers, had six hitters bat runs in, and got a walk-off home run from Sharlize Palacios to get their first Pac-12 win of the season.

The two-run homer was the exclamation point on the weekend of Palacios, who had been struggling coming into the weekend series. She raised her batting average from .197 to .229 over the three games by going 5-for-12 with a walk and one home run.

“Truthfully it was a hard time for me before, but I really had people like Izzy, my sister, my dad, and all my friends kind of hanging on to me tight and telling me that it’s gonna pay off and it did,” Palacios said. “I told everyone I was like, ‘Those three weeks, I don’t care. I wouldn’t trade it for this.’”

The win didn’t come easy, either. It was difficult from the first inning.

Devyn Netz started the game and quickly got into hot water with the bases loaded and no one out. Shortstop Sophia Carroll was able to gun down the first out at home on a fielder’s choice, but a wild pitch allowed a run to score in the next at-bat. Netz was able to escape with only one run allowed, but it suggested another bumpy ride.

In the other dugout, the pitchers weren’t having a great day, either. The Huskies started Kelley Lynch for the second time in the series. Just two batters in, Arizona had two runs against her on a single by Jasmine Perezchica and a home run by Allie Skaggs.

After three more singles and two hit batters, Lynch was removed in favor of Gabbie Plain. Four runs had already crossed the plate for Arizona. Plain allowed the fifth run in the inning to give the Wildcats a 5-1 lead.

The Huskies came back repeatedly on Arizona over the weekend, though, so there was no reason to think Washington was going anywhere.

The Huskies proved that in the sixth inning. Three errors in the inning helped give Washington four runs and the 9-8 lead over the Wildcats. It looked like the losing streak was headed to nine. The crowd, which had been sparse to begin with, began to thin even more.

“The thing we talked about, too, is...when that sixth inning happens, you still have a chance,” Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said. “That was the message. It was like it’s 1-0 right now, and we have two chances to hit and they’ve got one, and I choose us in that moment every time.”

Arizona wasn’t ready to give up and let this be just another loss. They had the heart of the order coming up, so there was reason to be hopeful. Carlie Scupin struck out, but Izzy Pacho worked herself into a 3-2 count before sending a strong ground ball to left. Palacios followed her, sending the 1-1 pitch over the fence to end the game.

“I knew we were gonna win,” Pacho said. “From the beginning, we were saying it. The whole game, we’re winning this game no matter what. So in the seventh with Scupin, me and (Palacios) up, we knew somebody was gonna do it.”