It was the Devyn Netz show as No. 13 Arizona softball split a doubleheader with No. 7 Arkansas at Bogle Field in Fayetteville, Ark. Netz was the hard-luck loser in the opening game which the Wildcats dropped 3-2 but hit her second home run of the day and picked up a save to lead the team to a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
Netz did everything in her power to get the win in the first game. She pitched a complete game giving up six hits and two earned runs. She walked three and struck out five.
Netz was just as important in the batter’s box. Her two-run home run in the top of the seventh tied the game. She just couldn’t hold that lead when she got back into the circle in the bottom of the inning.
The Wildcats fell behind on a two-out double by Spencer Prigge in the bottom of the second inning. A close ball four to Hannah Gammill was followed by a single and a groundout to bring Prigge up. She put the Razorbacks ahead early.
Several innings of offensive struggles followed. Arkansas pitcher Chenise Delcie carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning as Arizona again had problems with laying off pitches out of the zone. The Wildcats struck out 12 times, the second time in a week they had double-digit strikeouts.
Arizona had only come back from a deficit to win a game once this season. That came in the Wildcats’ second game against North Carolina State when the Wolfpack put up one run in the top of the first. In every other win, UA struck first.
The first game in Fayetteville wouldn’t be the second comeback win for Arizona, but it wasn’t because Netz didn’t rise to the occasion. She was one of only four Wildcats to record a hit and accounted for all of their RBIs.
After the Netz home run, Arizona needed to hold the Razorbacks scoreless in the bottom of the seventh in order to get to extra innings. Arizona’s pitcher struck out the first batter she faced in the inning, but the team didn’t record the out.
Catcher Izzy Pacho dropped the third strike to Reagan Johnson. She couldn’t track it down and throw it to first base in time to get the speedy Johnson. A sacrifice bunt and a walk put two on with one out, but a groundout got the Wildcats just one out from forcing extra innings.
They couldn’t get what amounted to the fourth out of the inning. Gammill hit a long single to centerfield, scoring Johnson for the walk-off victory.
The Wildcats finally broke through with their second comeback win of the season in the late game. Netz was again crucial to the victory.
Freshman pitcher Aissa Silva got the start, but she was only able to get through two innings. Silva gave up two runs on three hits and two walks. Only one of the runs was earned as an error by shortstop Tayler Biehl allowed one of Silva’s runners to score after the pitcher was relieved in the bottom of the third inning.
Fellow freshman Sydney Somerndike got the win to improve to 2-1 on the season. Somerndike pitched four innings. She gave up two hits and one walk but surrendered no runs. Netz entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with the Wildcats leading by three to get the save with an easy 1-2-3 inning.
The Razorbacks took the lead in the bottom of the third when two inherited runners scored on Somerndike. After that, it was lights out for the Hogs.
Arizona went to bat in the top of the fourth needing to make something happen. Outfielder Dakota Kennedy got it started with a leadoff walk. Allie Skaggs followed with a single. After Carlie Scupin struck out, it brought Netz to the plate as the designated player.
Netz hit the offering from Robyn Herron over the centerfield fence to give Arizona the 3-2 lead.
Arizona wasn’t done, though. Paige Dimler reached on a dropped third strike and Izzy Pacho was hit by a pitch. Kaiah Altmeyer reached on an error, scoring Dimler to put the ‘Cats up 4-2.
A walk by Netz set Arizona up for yet another run. Altmeyer was again responsible for the RBI, reaching on a fielder’s choice that scored pinch runner Ali Blanchard in the top of the sixth.
Arizona threatened again in the top of the seventh inning. Kennedy and Skaggs led off with singles. Scupin hit what was called a fielder’s choice by the first base umpire. That would have put runners on the corners with one out.
Several television replays appeared to show Scupin getting safely on base, but the umpires huddled in the middle of the field as the Arkansas fans yelled that Scupin was out. After what the SEC announcers thought was a long conversation about a play that looked like an obvious fielder’s choice, the umpires reversed the call. The home plate umpire called it a double play, giving the Wildcats two outs.
After the inning, Arizona assistant coach Lauren Lappin stopped and had a lengthy discussion with the home plate umpire.
It turned out that the controversial call didn’t matter. Netz entered the circle in the bottom of the seventh inning. Three straight groundouts slammed the door.
Arizona (8-4) next plays Drake at 10 a.m. MST on Friday, Feb. 23. That game is followed by another matchup against Arkansas at 3 p.m. MST. Although the schedule previously indicated that the second game would be broadcast, it has been updated to reflect that neither will be aired.