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Arizona softball cruises to easy win over North Carolina State

Arizona softball outfielder Dakota Kennedy (4) celebrates a hit with first base coach Greg McQuillin.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Devyn Netz pitched three innings of no-hit softball and hit for the fourth game in a row as Arizona softball defeated North Carolina State 15-1 in five innings. The Wildcats improved to 4-0 on the season and at the Candrea Classic.

Netz had three strikeouts and one walk in her three innings of work. She went 1 for 2 at the plate and scored a run.

“I had my exit meeting with [Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe] after my sophomore year and I was like, ‘You know, I know the priority here is pitching.’ She’s like, ‘No, I recruited you to hit, too, so you’re gonna hit as well.’ I think that was also kind of a cool thing that she said to me. I think that kind of planted the seed in a confidence in me. I can be a good athlete on both sides of the ball.”

The big issue was getting Netz healthy enough to do it. Last season, she was in the starting lineup a few times, making four plate appearances, but there were times as the season wore on that she wore a boot during days she wasn’t playing.

“With the injury she went through, we just couldn’t afford to have her in the offensive lineup and running and putting all the weight on it,” Lowe said. “So, for us it was her coming back healthy. I have always known she can hit, and she felt bigger and stronger and ready to go. So, we’re just excited that we have some flexibility now with the lineup.”

Brianna Hardy pitched the final two innings. She gave up one earned run on two hits while striking out five.

At the plate, third baseman Blaise Biringer continued the hot start to the season. The junior came in hitting .625 and went 2 for 4 with a game-high four RBI.

Biringer was one of two players with multiple RBI. Second baseman Allie Skaggs had three while going 1 for 3 at the plate. Nine different Wildcats had at least one RBI.

Freshman outfielder Dakota Kennedy was one of those with an RBI. She had a breakout game after coming into the day without a hit. She went 3 for 3 with one RBI and three runs scored.

Arizona once again went for the stolen base. Jasmine Perezchica got her fourth steal of the season in the first inning. Kennedy also stole a base. The Wildcats now have eight on the season after stealing only 23 all of last year. Whether it continues depends on the results and the opportunities to practice it.

“Stealing bases is kind of, if you don’t work on it all the time, then you don’t get good at it,” Lowe said. “I just didn’t think we had a chance last year to get better when we didn’t steal a lot in the beginning. And we’re trying to figure out right now who’s going to be that threat and who’s not, and they all look good right now. So, we’ll see as we go on...There’s a lot of great arms in the Pac-12.”

Arizona is seeing the payoff with the early running. NC State committed five errors in the five-inning affair.

“I don’t think today or last night we hit a ball out of the ballpark, which was awesome to see,” Lowe said. “Our singles through the infield putting pressure on the defense. I think that’s the type of team we are. It’s just scrappy this year, which is fun to see.”

In addition to the scrappiness, the Wildcats got a lot of energy from the circle. Netz was vocal in her celebration of strikeouts and showed a great deal of swagger.

“It changes everything,” Lowe said. “I thought Devyn had it. I thought Ali [Blanchard] had it. She came in that second start [on Friday] and just went right at people. And, to me, as a defense, we all go as they go in the circle. So, for them to kind of set the tone that way, then just everybody falls into line.”