Arizona softball fell to 5-3 on the season after dropping two games on the second day of the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational. The Wildcats have gone 0-3 in their first three games in Florida.
Devyn Netz bounced back from a tough start against Florida State, but it wasn’t enough to get the win against Texas A&M, which defeated Arizona 2-1. In the second game, Ali Blanchard ran into early trouble against Mississippi State in a 6-3 loss to the Bulldogs.
Netz gave up four runs—two earned—against the Seminoles on Thursday. At 8 a.m. MST Friday morning, she was back at it against TAMU. The junior pitched a complete game against the Aggies, giving up two earned runs on three hits. She walked one and struck out two.
It was the fifth straight win for TAMU head coach Trisha Ford against UA. Last year at ASU, her team swept the three-game series against the Wildcats in Tucson after winning the final game of the four-game series the year before. Ford’s teams have gone 7-1 against Arizona over the past three seasons.
Aggies pitcher Emily Kennedy struck out eight as Arizona hitters regularly chased balls out of the zone. The Wildcats still had their chances, but they left seven on base.
TAMU broke through with a run in the fourth inning then added another in the fifth.
The Wildcats finally got on the board with two outs in the seventh. Kaiah Altmeyer, who came in to start the bottom of the first in place of Jasmine Perezchica, got on with a single. A triple by fellow freshman outfielder Dakota Kennedy scored the run.
Blaise Biringer came up with the chance to tie the game or put Arizona in the lead. She had been on base three times with one hit and two walks but struck out to end the game.
Perezchica did not return to the early game and did not play in the later game. ESPN reported that she was held out for precautionary reasons due to a minor injury that occurred in batting practice.
The Bulldogs went 3-2 during opening weekend with a loss to Stony Brook, but they got their bats going against Indiana in their first game on Friday. That seemed to carry over into the matchup against the Wildcats.
Starter Blanchard gave up two early home runs to put MSU up 2-0 and was pulled after 1.1 innings pitched.
Arizona was able to tie it up with runs in the second and third innings.
Freshman Sydney Somerndike entered the game with one out in the top of the second and was going well until the Arizona defense had a hiccup.
The Wildcats gave up four unearned runs to Florida State on Thursday. Two of those runs scored on errors by right fielder Paige Dimler and an error by Biringer also led to unearned damage. Two errors on the same play against the Bulldogs—one by Biringer and one by Dimler—allowed a run to score and kept the inning alive long enough for MSU to tack on another unearned run and take the 4-2 lead.
Somerndike took the loss with 2.1 innings of three-hit ball. She gave up two runs, one of them earned, and struck out three.
Aissa Silva relieved Somerndike with two outs in the fourth. For the second straight day, she was humming right along, keeping it a two-run game. She finally ran into trouble in the top of the seventh inning. A double and a home run to lead off the inning put Arizona in a 6-2 hole.
Silva pitched 2.1 innings. She gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks. She struck out one.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats put a two-out rally together. Netz came in to pinch hit for Pacho, who has been struggling in Clearwater. Netz drew a two-out walk. Dimler followed her to the plate and got her third hit in four at-bats. The double to centerfield scored Netz while a throwing error allowed Dimler to reach third.
Kennedy drew another walk to put runners on the corners and bring the tying run to the plate. Shortstop Tayler Biehl put her barrel on the ball, but it was straight to second base for the final out.
The errors in the field didn’t help the Wildcats on defense. On offense, they struggled to get runners in, leaving 11 on base against MSU and seven against TAMU.
The Wildcats have been outscored 14-8 in Clearwater while leaving 24 on base in three games. Against TAMU, Dimler left three on base and Allie Skaggs left two. Against MSU, it was Pacho with four left on, Biehl with three, and Olivia DiNardo with two.
Arizona faces No. 8 Virginia Tech at 5 p.m. MST on Saturday, Feb. 18 on ESPN+. The Wildcats close out the tournament against Indiana on Sunday at 10 a.m. MST on ESPN+.