Grand Canyon was looking for the unofficial Arizona state softball title this week. The Lopes beat Arizona State 3-2 on Tuesday at Farrington Stadium. They hoped to follow it up with a win over Arizona on Wednesday at GCU Softball Stadium, but the Wildcats proved to be too much in an 8-3 victory.
Devyn Netz did not look strong in the circle to begin the game. She had difficulty finding the zone and fell behind batters. She walked the leadoff then allowed a single to give GCU two runners with one out. They both moved into scoring position when starting catcher Olivia DiNardo failed to cleanly catch a strike. It didn’t matter where the runners were, though, because the next hitter launched it out of the park to give the Lopes a 3-0 lead in the first.
Netz continued to play with fire as her last two outs came on solid contact. Fortunately for Arizona, the park was big enough to hold both long outs.
It was the only poor inning from Arizona’s No. 1 pitcher. She threw a complete game giving up three earned runs on two hits. She walked two and struck out five. She threw 22 of her 91 pitches in the first inning.
Arizona’s offense couldn’t get any scoring going in the first two innings, but the Wildcats both made their own breaks and caught an officiating break in the third. They closed the GCU lead to one run with a fielder’s choice from Dakota Kennedy, a walk by Netz, and two RBI singles by DiNardo and Blaise Biringer.
With her team trailing 3-2, Izzy Pacho hit what appeared to be a foul ball off her foot with two outs. She didn’t run until she realized it was being called fair. She reached while Biringer and DiNardo scored. It ended the day of GCU starting pitcher Hailey Hudson.
The introduction of reliever Ariel Thompson didn’t put an end to Arizona’s scoring. An RBI single by Paige Dimler gave the Wildcats a 5-3 lead before Thompson could get the final out.
As Netz continued to get stronger in the circle, Arizona followed up with an unearned run in the fourth inning. With two outs, DiNardo reached on an error when the second baseman threw it away. Netz came around to score from first when the right fielder made a second throwing error, and the ball got away yet a third time as the Lopes tried to get DiNardo in a rundown. It was a 6-3 game going to the fifth.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the seventh, all starting with Netz.
The pitcher led off the inning with a single. Pinch runner Ali Blanchard moved into scoring position on the groundout from DiNardo. A single by Biringer scored Blanchard from second base, but the Wildcats weren’t done yet.
Jasmine Perezchica sacrificed Biringer to second. Pacho and Dimler drew two straight walks to load the bases with two outs. Tayler Biehl got the final RBI with a single to score Biringer.
The Wildcats scored their eight runs on 12 hits and two GCU errors. They drew four walks and struck out twice.
Biringer led the way with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. She tied Netz with two runs scored and tied both Pacho and DiNardo with two RBIs.
Perezchica and Biehl both went 2 for 3 at the plate. Perezchica scored one run and Biehl had one RBI.
Arizona now goes to Oregon where it tries to end a 10-game losing streak in conference play. The Ducks swept ASU last week in Tempe.