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Arizona softball can’t hold lead, falls again to UCLA

Arizona pitcher Devyn Netz and third baseman Blaise Biringer against UCLA on Apr. 15, 2023.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

It was an important series. Arizona came in hovering in 8th in the league, just ahead of Oregon State. That would put them in the play-in game of the Pac-12 Tournament next month. With an 8-game Pac-12 losing skid and a 5-game losing skid to UCLA, the Wildcats were trying to break through.

For most of the game, it looked like they had. In the bottom of the second inning, they took a 4-0 lead and kept their noses in front for most of the game.

Then came the top of the seventh when UCLA used five runs to take an 8-4 lead. The Wildcats got a single from Blaise Biringer in the bottom of the inning, but they couldn’t move her from first. The team fell to 24-17 on the season and 3-11 in Pac-12 play.

Arizona scored more runs against UCLA’s starting pitching than any team since Oklahoma back on Feb. 16 when the Sooners run-ruled the Bruins 14-0. The 10 hits by the Wildcats were also the most by any team but the Sooners. The pitching wasn’t able to keep UCLA at bay, though.

The Wildcats took the early lead on a two-run home run by Sophia Carroll that scored Blaise Biringer. The tandem joined Devyn Netz and Dakota Kennedy in going 2 for 4 at the plate.

“[Carroll] feels good,” said junior second baseman Allie Skaggs. “Her load and her timing right now look amazing. I think she’s confident. So, she’s looking for anything that they leave over the plate. She’s gonna make an adjustment. Even the off-speed stuff that she got today, she did a great job with it, just putting it in play and getting hits.”

After Carroll cleared the bases, Izzy Pacho walked. That was followed by Tayler Biehl reaching on a fielder's choice in which an out was not recorded. With two on, Kennedy executed her third drag bunt of the weekend to load the bases.

A third run was scored via an RBI single by Skaggs, then another with an RBI single by Netz. Arizona had its first lead of the weekend.

The Wildcats’ scoring stalled there. They got two runners on in the third, and one in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. They couldn’t push any more runs across.

Meanwhile, UCLA started chipping away at the Arizona lead. The Bruins put one run on the board in the top of the third and added two more in the fifth, but the seventh was the killer. UCLA was down to its final three outs but scored five runs before the Wildcats could get those outs.

“Very tough,” said Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe. “You know, a 5-run 7th can’t happen. We know that we had an opportunity to put a lot of runs on the board today and I think we didn’t capitalize on those, and that kind of hurt us just momentum-wise throughout the game.”

Arizona has now lost nine straight Pac-12 games. The Wildcats are 4-9 over their last 13 with the four wins coming in nonconference play.

“I think the biggest bright spot of this season is that we’re angry,” Skaggs said. “Because we know that we’re in every single one of these games. So, it’s like, we’re not going down and thinking it’s UCLA, we’re gonna get smoked. We’re like, we should be beating people. We’re just, we’re so close every time, so it’s just when you’re right there and you’re sniffing a win, and then it just goes the other way, it’s just, it’s tough. We got to keep showing up. It’s a new day tomorrow.”