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Defense lets Arizona softball down in loss to Stanford

arizona-softball-defense-4th-inning-netz-stanford-recap-stats-analysis Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

When you’re up against the best pitching in the conference, everything needs to go right. Everything didn’t go right for Arizona softball in a 5-1 loss at Stanford.

Arizona pitcher Devyn Netz came ready to play. She held the Cardinal without a hit through the first three innings. Then, the defense deserted Arizona.

In the bottom of the fourth, a passed ball on a third strike and two fielders’ choices that resulted in no outs led to four runs for Stanford. It was the difference in the game.

Netz struck out the first batter in the fourth, but the ball jetted away from freshman catcher Olivia DiNardo all the way to the backstop. By the time she got to the ball, River Mahler was already safely aboard. An infield single followed by a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position.

That’s where the mental errors stepped in for Arizona. Freshman shortstop Logan Cole tried to go home on an infield ball instead of taking the sure out at first. Her throw was both late and offline, making it impossible for DiNardo to apply the tag on a play that was not a force out. It allowed the run to score easily while not getting the second out.

The very next at-bat was the same thing. A fielder's choice was thrown home instead of to first base, once again on a play that was not a force out. It allowed a second run to score without securing the second out.

Netz finally got the second out by striking out Emily Jones, but Emily Schultz followed that with a single that scored two. Netz got out of the inning with yet another strikeout, but the damage had been done.

Arizona was in a 4-0 hole despite Netz giving up just two hits, only one of which left the infield. Three of the four runs were unearned.

The Wildcats finally got something going in the fifth when Stanford started things off with its own defensive struggles. Paige Dimler gave Arizona a leadoff baserunner when pitcher Alana Vawter committed a throwing error. That was followed by a single by Biehl. Allie Skaggs came up with the two-out single to knock Dimler in and close the lead to 4-1.

Netz and her defense bounced back in the bottom of the inning. She struck out the first batter, then centerfielder Jasmine Perezchica gunned down Mahler as she tried to stretch a single into a double. Another single was followed by a strikeout to get the Wildcats back on offense.

Arizona could not get anything going with its bats in the final two innings, though, and they couldn’t keep the Cardinal from scoring again.

Netz was replaced in the circle by freshman Sydney Somerndike in the sixth inning. Netz wasn’t removed from the game, though. She was once again sent to first base while Biehl was moved to shortstop in place of Cole.

Somerndike walked the first batter she faced. She got the next two out but had difficulty closing it out. A two-out double scored Aly Kanishero from first, giving Stanford a 5-1 lead. A wild pitch and a walk put runners on the corners before Somerndike got the final strikeout.

Netz had a strong outing, pitching five innings of four-hit ball. Only one of the four runs scored on her was earned. She walked one and struck out seven. It lowered her ERA to 2.86 but dropped her record to 11-10 on the season.

Somerndike gave up one earned run in one inning of relief. She struck out two and walked two.

The Wildcats’ offense left five runners on base. Perezchica, Skaggs, Netz and Biehl got their four hits. Dimler was on base twice with a walk and an error on the defense.

The two teams will face off again on Friday, Apr. 7 at 6 p.m. MST. The game will be streamed on Stanford Live Stream.