With Boise State and South Illinois Edwardsville on the schedule, you expect a fourth-ranked team to take care of those types of opponents. However, much like the rest of the season, Arizona played down to the level of its competition on Saturday.
Arizona still came away with the sweep beating Boise State 2-1, and then run-ruling South Illinois Edwardsville 15-2 in the fifth at Hillenbrand Stadium.
In the first game against Boise State, in the first inning, Arizona had the bases loaded with no outs and was able only to push one run across. The run came from a sac-fly RBI from Malia Martinez, giving her team the early advantage.
After that, it was a quiet offensive game for Arizona as it struggled to get runners on base, leaving a total of eight.
In the circle, Alyssa Denham was rock solid, pitching seven innings of four-hit softball with seven strikeouts. Her only mistake came in the second inning when Boise State player Bella Rocco hit a blast over the center-field wall to tie the game at 1.
One bright spot in the game was once again Hannah “Peanut” Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with two doubles. After a rough start to the season, Peanut has now raised her batting average to .220.
Headed into the bottom of the seventh with the game tied at 1, it was Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza who delivered in the clutch, when her team needed her most. After battling throughout the at-bat, Palomino-Cardoza belted a walk-off home run over the right-center field wall to give Arizona the 2-1 win in exciting fashion.
The second game started slow for Arizona and for Mariah Lopez, who was in the circle against South Illinois Edwardsville. To say the least, this was not the best start for Lopez. Edwardsville was able to draw first blood from an RBI single.
After a four-run bottom of the first to answer the Edwardsville top half, Arizona gave up another run in the second inning, making it a 4-2 lead.
Lopez, in a short outing, allowed five hits and three doubles in just two innings of work. Arizona turned to Hanah Bowen to get things going in the circle and the move worked.
Bowen went three innings giving up just three hits and racking up four strikeouts along the way. The outing from Bowen dropped her ERA to 3.65 in only 7 2/3 innings of work on the season.
With Bowen in the circle, Arizona was able to flex its muscles at the plate in the third inning when both Jessie Harper and Ivy Davis went yard in another four-run inning to take a stranglehold on the game.
The home run from Harper gives her nine homers on the season and brings her career total to 75 for 14th all-time in NCAA history. Now, she is one home run shy of tying former Arizona great Jenny Dalton for 13th on the career list.
Then, Arizona exploded in the fourth inning for seven runs to put the game to rest and cap off an impressive offensive showing.
Coach Mike Candrea has talked about the team energy level when playing lesser opponents. After the doubleheader, Denham gave her thoughts on how the energy level was in Saturday’s matchups.
Arizona struggled to find its footing against Boise State on the offensive end, then came out flat in the first two innings in game two of the doubleheader. Eventually, the bats woke up and helped Arizona improve to 20-3 on the season with Pac-12 play looming.