In late April of 2013, Oregon State softball swept the three-game series against the Arizona Wildcats. On Saturday, the Beavers took step number two towards doing it for the first time since with a 3-1 victory in the second game of this year’s series.
Arizona was cruising for the first four innings. Freshman pitcher Madi Elish had only given up two hits and allowed no one to cross home plate.
In the circle for OSU was senior Mariah Mazon. She was having a strong day, as well. Mazon had given up just one hit all day. The positive for Arizona was that the hit was a solo home run by Sharlize Palacios.
Elish took the circle in the bottom of the fifth with a one-run lead. She promptly retired two Beavers. Then, a soft grounder up the middle made it into centerfield. Next, a hard-hit ball to third was knocked down by Izzy Pacho, but as quickly as she got it and fired to first, it was too late for shortstop Sophia Carroll to get the out. Finally, it was a soft bloop into left field that got a run in and put runners on the corners with the game tied.
Arizona had a choice. With two on and two out, they could choose to walk Oregon State’s best hitter, Frankie Hammoude. Hammoude came into the game hitting .411 with 11 home runs. Choosing to walk her would move the runner from first into scoring position, but it would keep the biggest threat from beating them.
Pitching coach Taryne Mowatt came out to the circle to speak to Elish. She left, and the righthander pitched to Hammoude. Hammoude promptly hit a two-RBI double to center and the Beavers were ahead 3-1.
Devyn Netz got the final four outs for the Wildcats, but the offense once again went into hibernation after breaking out last weekend against Washington.
Arizona wasn’t able to get much going in the final two innings despite having the heart of its order up in the sixth. Palacios and Allie Skaggs both walked to put two on with one out in the top of the sixth, but Pacho and Carlie Scupin both struck out to end the threat.
The Wildcats’ three through six hitters have one hit in the two games against the Beavers. That hit was a single by Blaise Biringer in the series opener.
The problems have persisted since Pac-12 play started. The only typical middle-of-the-order hitters who are batting above .250 in league play are Biringer (.450) and Skaggs (.286). Pacho is at .214 with eight strikeouts, Palacios is batting .172, and Scupin is hitting .129 with a team-high 11 strikeouts against conference opponents.
The Wildcats will try to salvage one win against the Beavers at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. The game will be aired on Pac-12 Arizona and Pac-12 Oregon. Arizona currently sits at 20-14 overall and 1-10 in Pac-12 play.