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Arizona softball falls behind early, UCLA sweeps the series in run-rule victory

Dakota Kennedy provided much of Arizona’s offense over the three-game series against UCLA.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

With the series already lost, at least stealing a game from UCLA would have been huge for Arizona softball. The Bruins made sure that idea went by the wayside early in a 14-5 run-rule victory in five innings as they swept the series. It was Arizona’s first run-rule loss of the season.

“We just need to get better in the circle,” said Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe. “I think competing with our best stuff, with that same kind of intensity that our offense and defense is competing with right now.”

The Wildcats started Devyn Netz for the second consecutive day, but her day didn’t last long. An RBI single by Aaliyah Jordan and a three-run home run by former Wildcat Sharlize Palacios gave the Bruins a 4-0 lead before Arizona got to bat. After the Palacios home run, Netz moved to designated player and Ali Blanchard came in to pitch.

Blanchard got Arizona out of the inning, but it wasn’t the end of the Bruins’ offense. UCLA scored every inning, adding on two in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth, and five in the fifth. It was the second straight game that the Bruins scored five in the final inning after getting five to take the 8-4 victory on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats responded with an unearned run in the second and back-to-back solo home runs from Dakota Kennedy and Allie Skaggs in the third.

Kennedy provided much of Arizona’s offense, as she had all weekend. The freshman outfielder also hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth as Arizona was trying to avoid the run-rule defeat. She was 2 for 3 with 3 RBI and 2 home runs in the game. She went 6 for 10 at the plate and was hit by a pitch over the three-game series.

Arizona now tries to regroup after 10 straight Pac-12 losses. They will play at GCU for a midweek out-of-conference game then head to Oregon.

As for how to turn around the pitching and get back on a winning track, Lowe thinks it starts in practice.

“I think it’s a mentality and doing something a little bit different at practice,” Lowe said. “And I told them when you’re throwing your bullpens it’s against these types of hitters. It’s not just to the catcher. It’s with intent and purpose. I think they can either let this fuel them or let it get to them. And I think that’s the choice they’re gonna have to make this week and hopefully that can turn us around for the next series.”