The home opener didn’t go as expected for Arizona as it started off the Hillenbrand Invitational against a pesky Long Beach State squad.
Long Beach State was able to take Arizona down to the wire in a close 2-1 game where all the scoring came in the first inning. In the game, Arizona had Mariah Lopez in the circle. She went seven strong innings, striking out six batters and gave up six hits.
Arizona struggled to get runners across, as they left nine runners on-base against Long Beach State pitcher Kellie White.
In the first inning, Arizona was able to push across two runs from a little small ball that featured an RBI single from Malia Martinez.
Arizona would continue to struggle in its second game of a doubleheader against Northern Iowa. However, this time the struggles were in the circle and not at the plate. In the end, Arizona was able to squeak by Northern Iowa 7-6 in a back and forth contest.
In the circle was Alyssa Denham, who coming into the game had been performing at a high level thus far in the early season. The struggles for Denham came early on has Northern Iowa jumped on the board first from a solo shot in the first inning.
This only set a tone for Northern Iowa as Arizona struggled through the first four innings to come out unscathed.
Through 4 1/3 innings of work, Denham walked two batters, gave up four hits leading to five runs for Northern Iowa. She seemed to be unable to find the strike zone from the first inning on.
It didn’t seem to matter who was pitching for Arizona as Lopez came in and struggled to a degree as well. Although she would finish the game and get the win, it was a less than impressive performance for her as well.
In the end, the difference in the game was the ability of Arizona’s offense to answer back blow-for-blow with the opponent’s offense.
There were two heroes at the plate for Arizona in Martinez, who had a monster three-run blast almost over the left-field stands, and Bella Dayton, who made her presence on the bases felt. With the bases loaded in extra innings, it was Dayton who came up with the sac-fly to score the game-winning run.
Here is Dayton talking about what it was like to be in that kind of pressure situation.
Even though Arizona struggled in these games, they were able to overcome its growing pains with wins and not having to learn from losses.
Here the postgame interview with coach Candrea and his thoughts on Arizona’s doubleheader sweep.