When No. 13 Arizona softball was preparing to head out on a two-week road trip to the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational and the Razorback Invitational, head coach Caitlin Lowe wanted to see how they came together both on the field and off. On the field, it went very well.
The Wildcats wrapped up their 10-game road trip with a 9-1 victory over the Drake Bulldogs in Fayetteville, Ark. After missing the run-rule victory against Drake on Friday, Arizona managed to end things in five innings against the same team on Saturday morning to improve to 10-5 on the season.
Devyn Netz once again got the start for Arizona, pitching three innings and improving to 5-4 on the season while hitting yet another home run. The fifth homer off her bat this season tied first baseman Carlie Scupin for the team lead.
In the circle, Netz gave up two hits and one earned run while striking out one, ending the week with a 1.91 ERA. She didn’t issue any walks, but she had one wild pitch.
With the Wildcats already up 9-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth, Lowe opted to get some work for two of her other pitchers. She brought in senior Brianna Hardy in the top of the fourth then went to freshman Aissa Silva in the top of the fifth.
A few players got to display their versatility in the lineup and the field. Netz was in the circle, so Olivia DiNardo took over as the designated player role. Tayler Biehl, who has been hitting well, took over in left field allowing Sophia Carroll to take over shortstop and hit.
It was a good outing for Carroll. After a solid offensive game against Arkansas yesterday—two fly balls that almost got out of the yard and a one-out single in the top of the seventh as Arizona tried to erase a 2-1 deficit—she picked up where she left off and got all of one.
Blaise Biringer got things started for her team with a walk to lead off the game. The aggressiveness on the basepaths that Arizona is playing with this season also showed up early. Biringer stole second. A passed ball got her to third.
As it turned out, she didn’t really need to do all that running. Scupin got the scoring started with a one-out double to get Biringer in.
The Wildcats weren’t done with the opening-frame scoring.
A walk by DiNardo and a single by Allie Skaggs moved Scupin to third base and put three on for Carroll. With one swing of the bat, Carroll added four runs with a line-drive home run that shot out over the centerfield fence. It was the fifth home run of the junior’s career.
Drake tried to chip away at the lead. The Bulldogs got a run back in the bottom of the inning, but it was all they could manage off the Arizona staff for the a.
Izzy Pacho got her second hit of the two-week road trip—a period that stretched over 19 at-bats—in the second inning. She almost got all of it, blasting it to deep right-center for a double. A passed ball got her to third, and she was able to tack on the Wildcats’ sixth run of the inning when a throwing error allowed Logan Cole to reach safely.
Arizona put another run on the board in the second. Skaggs got her second hit in as many innings, knocking in Biringer from second to put the Wildcats up 7-1.
It had been a long two weeks. The game started later than originally planned because of delays the previous day. Maybe it was just time to get home.
Arizona got the runs it needed to shorten the game in the top of the fourth inning. Netz launched her fifth home run of the season off Drake pitcher Paige Bedsworth.
It was the fourth homer of the week for the Arizona pitcher. The only game at the Razorback Invitational in which she did not hit a home run was the third game against Arkansas. Netz has nine hits this season with over half of them going out of the park.
Hardy entered in the bottom of the inning to take over in the circle. She gave up a single and a walk but kept the score within the realm of the run rule. Silva ended things with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fifth.
Arizona finally returns to Rita Hillenbrand Stadium on Wednesday, Mar. 1 for a single game against Cal State Bakersfield. The Hillenbrand Invitational gets started on Friday, Mar. 3 with Weber State, Texas A&M-Commerce, Cal State Northridge and Nebraska coming to Tucson.