The win over Grand Canyon on Wednesday ended a six-game losing streak for Arizona softball. It didn’t end the Wildcats’ 10-game losing streak in Pac-12 play, though. Neither did the series opener against Oregon on Friday night.
The Ducks marched to an easy 8-0 run-rule victory in six innings behind a three-hitter thrown by ace Morgan Scott. Arizona has now lost 11 straight Pac-12 games and is 5-11 in its last 16 games overall.
Scott, who transferred to Oregon from UNC Greensboro in the offseason, entered the game with a 3.00 ERA. She ended with a 2.37 ERA and a 9-4 record. It took 76 pitches for her to throw her sixth complete game of the season.
On the other side, Arizona pitchers gave up eight earned runs on 10 hits, four walks, and two hit batters. Devyn Netz started the game, going four innings. She gave up four runs on four hits. She walked one and hit a batter. She also struck out two. The loss dropped her record to 12-13.
Netz was relieved by freshman Sydney Somerndike, who had a rough outing. She faced five batters, allowing four of them to reach. She gave up three runs on three hits and a walk. Two of the three hits went for extra bases—a double and a home run—in her 0.1 IP.
Fellow freshman Aissa Silva, pitching a day after her 18th birthday, came in to relieve Somerndike. The Ducks did not give her a belated birthday present.
Silva gave up one run in 1.1 IP, but it was a big one. She was fortunate that she didn’t give it up earlier in the game.
When Silva entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, Arizona was on the brink of being run-ruled. Somerndike had just allowed a two-run homer to clear the bases, then followed that up with a double to put the eighth and final run in scoring position.
Silva hit the first batter, secured the second out on a grounder to shortstop, then walked the next batter to load the bases with two outs. Pinch hitter Katelyn Howard lined out to left field, ending the threat for a little while.
Silva came back out in the sixth to try to keep the game going. The first two hitters singled, and a one-out walk loaded the bases. The Ducks still just needed one run to walk off the Wildcats via the run rule.
Silva got the second out with a strikeout. Arizona was so close to at least playing all seven innings.
Junior infielder KK Humphreys battled the young pitcher. Silva got the batter into a 1-2 count. From there, the two went back and forth. A ball was followed by a foul, then another ball ran the count full. Humphreys fouled off two more pitches before she finally found the one she liked. A single to right field brought Terra McGowan in from third to end the game in six innings.
It marked the Wildcats’ second straight run-rule defeat in Pac-12 play. UCLA defeated Arizona 14-5 in five innings last Sunday. Prior to that, Arizona had not lost by the run rule all year despite playing 14 games against top 10 teams.
It wasn’t all about the eight hits and four walks the Ducks earned off Arizona’s pitchers, though. It was also about the lack of hits and walks the Wildcats earned off of Scott.
Arizona did not get a hit until a one-out single by Tayler Biehl in the third inning. She advanced to second on a wild pitch that was swung on by Paige Dimler, giving the Wildcats two outs in the inning. It’s as a far as Biehl would go.
Arizona’s next hit came in the fifth inning. Blaise Biringer hit a one-out single. The Wildcats did not move the runner.
UA might have extended the game if it had taken advantage of its sixth-inning opportunity. Dimler singled and advanced to second on a fielding error by the left fielder. She then advanced to third on a passed ball. There were still no outs.
That didn’t last long despite the one, two and three hitters coming to the plate. Dakota Kennedy struck out looking. Allie Skaggs fouled out to first base. Netz lined out to left to end it.
Arizona once again played with 16 players. For the second straight road trip, Sophia Carroll did not appear to be with the team. Freshman Logan Cole started at shortstop and Carroll was not seen in the telecast. She also seemed to be absent when the team played GCU in Phoenix on Wednesday.
Carroll did not travel with the team when it went to Stanford two weeks ago for unknown reasons. Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said after that trip that they did not know that they would only have 14 until shortly before they left. Carroll played against UCLA last week in Tucson and there was no suggestion that she would be staying home this week when Lowe met with the media on Tuesday.
During the telecast, Lowe praised the defensive work of her freshmen, several of whom have had to deal with inconsistent playing time and being put in the starting lineup with little notice and at different positions.
“They’ve just been fantastic,” Lowe said. “I mean, I think Tayler’s played four positions on the field for us, and they’ll roll with anything. They’re ready for it and they want the moment... We’re growing up fast this year. And I think they’re looking to the older girls, but really, they’re holding their own, getting a great level of experience. It’s gonna really pay dividends down the road.”
The Wildcats hope some of those dividends arrive tomorrow when they play the Ducks again. The game starts at 4 p.m. MST on Saturday, Apr. 22. It airs on Pac-12 Arizona and Pac-12 Oregon.