OKLAHOMA CITY — Friday night didn’t go as planned for the Arizona Wildcats.
They were trying to keep on in the winners’ bracket at the Women’s College World Series, but they lost to old rival UCLA 6-2 after a meltdown in the seventh inning, when UCLA scored four runs.
With the score 3-1 in the inning and two outs, the Wildcats had a chance to get out of the jam with only little damage done. The back-breaking play came from a ball hit in left-center field. Carli Campbell, who made an amazing catch earlier in the game, dropped a routine fly ball, deflating any momentum they had left.
In a game full of errors and missed opportunities, there was one bright spot. That was Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza with her big bat in the lineup, going 2-for-3 at the plate. She talked about her improvement from Thursday’s game to Friday’s game.
“Just kind of keeping it simple and getting back to my game and keeping my hand short to the ball,” she said. “I think that was really successful for me.”
Not only was it successful, it was impactful as she slugged not one, but two home runs off UCLA ace Rachel Garcia, a familiar foe.
“I think facing her, since I was 12, has a lot to do with it,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “I mean, I just go up there, try to keep it simple, know that I’m going to get rise ball, rise ball, rise ball. Just kind of find a pitch down, something I can drive. I think that’s how I went in today.”
Even though it was a successful day at the office for Palomino-Cardoza, that was all the team could put together offensively, falling short in the “big moments.”
“I think we kind of let the game get fast on us,” Palomino-Cardoza said.
“We kind of just let Arizona softball slip our minds for an inning. I think that’s kind of what happened. That can happen sometimes. It happened today. We slipped up. But we’re just going to come back stronger.”
Getting back to “Arizona softball” as Palomino-Cardoza said is going to have to happen fast, as they will play the winner of the Florida-Alabama game. Arizona faced both teams early in the season with both games ending in a loss, with a close 3-2 loss to Florida, and a 7-0 loss to Alabama.
The season will be on the line for the Wildcats from here on out as they move into the losers bracket. However, coach Mike Candrea had this to say about the losers bracket.
“You don’t have to look any further than last year when Florida State lost their first game of the tournament, came back and won a national championship. I think the big thing is the mindset. After going through a tough game like that you have to kind of get them healthy mentally, get their confidence back.
Arizona will see if it can regain its confidence Saturday night in a win-or-go home scenario. It will be interesting to see who starts the game for the Wildcats as Taylor McQuillin hasn’t thrown in three straight games as a starter all season long.