TEMPE - After securing a series win with victories in the first two games, Arizona softball wanted to get greedy and go for the sweep against rival Arizona State. The Wildcats came close, but ASU was able to salvage a 4-3 win in the final game of the series.
For the third straight day, Arizona’s offense got started early. ASU starter Kylee Magee got the first two outs, but that just meant she had to face Carlie Scupin. Scupin hit a towering homer out to center field on Saturday. On Sunday, it was another towering home run out of Farrington Stadium, this time to right field. It was her ninth of the season.
It didn’t stop there.
Olivia DiNardo followed Scupin with a single up the middle. A walk by Allie Skaggs and a hit by pitch for Devyn Netz loaded the bases for Izzy Pacho. Pacho didn’t make great contact, but the little dribbler to third base was enough to get the run in and keep the bases loaded.
Arizona wasn’t able to get any more runs. It was not the last time the Wildcats would not get as much out of a bases loaded situation as they might have liked. They also loaded the bases in the fifth and sixth innings. They got just one total run out of those two situations.
Still, Arizona was cruising early in the game, keeping the momentum on its side until the top of the third. With Magee struggling to find the strike zone and walking the first two batters, pinch runner Tayler Biehl strayed too far off second base and got thrown out for the first out of the inning. On the next pitch, Netz flew out to left center for the second out. Pacho got a single to put two on, but Sophia Carroll flew out to left field to end the danger.
As often happens, ASU used the momentum shift to get something going on offense. In the bottom of the inning, Yanni Acuña led off with a single and was sacrificed over by Alexa Milius. An RBI single by Jazmyn Rollin scored the Sun Devils’ first run of the weekend.
Jordyn VanHook had been largely neutralized by the Wildcats’ pitching staff in the first two games. The Pac-12 home run leader was bound to do something eventually, though. A two-run homer finally gave ASU a lead and ended the day of Netz after 2.1 innings. It was VanHook’s 14th of the season.
Netz ended her day surrendering three earned runs on four hits. She struck out two and walked one.
Breezy Hardy came in to relieve Netz, just as she had to end the game the night before. Hardy struck out Makenna Harper before a long fly by Emily Cazares was tracked down at the wall by Perezchica.
JAZ! @jazperezchica makes the catch at the wall to bring the bats back out! pic.twitter.com/kh6KgdJEky— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) March 12, 2023
Sydney Somerndike came in to finish things off. She gave up one run on three hits and struck out five in three innings of work.
The one run turned out to be a big one, though. A solo home run off the bat of Rollin in the bottom of the fifth gave ASU an insurance run. It would turn out to be the difference.
Arizona got one back in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI single from Skaggs off reliever Marissa Schuld. It was the only run they got out of base-loaded situation.
Perezchica got on with two outs in the top of the seventh, but the Wildcats weren’t able to rally. She was the final of Arizona’s 14 runners left on base.
The Wildcats were led on offense by Scupin and Pacho, both of whom went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Scupin moved into sole possession of second in the Pac-12 with her ninth home run of the season.
Despite the loss on Sunday, it was a positive start to conference play. The Wildcats improved to 17-7 overall during the weekend and started off Pac-12 play 2-1. UCLA and Washington were the other two teams to go 2-1 to begin league play. Only Utah went 3-0 over the opening weekend, sweeping Oregon State at home.
Arizona will host the Utes at Hillenbrand Stadium beginning Friday, Mar. 17 after a doubleheader against New Mexico State on Wednesday, Mar. 15.