With the non-conference coming to an end, Arizona had one final game before having to get ready for one of the nation’s best softball conferences, the Pac-12.
The opponent on the schedule Tuesday night was Saint Joseph’s, which Arizona made quick work of, taking the game 11-1 in a fifth-inning run-rule to improve to a record of 22-3 and winners of 11 straight.
Arizona took the opportunity to get pitcher Hanah Bowen some much-needed innings. With Bowen in the circle, this gave aces Mariah Lopez and Alyssa Denham some rest right before the heart of the season. Plus, the game allowed Bowen a chance to work on any issues and lower her ERA.
Coming into the game, Bowen had just pitched a total of 7 2/3 innings of work while giving up four runs and only six strikeouts in those innings of work. Things were different this time around as Bowen went a strong four innings racking up four strikeouts in what might have been her best performance of the season. The only mistake was a solo shot that was given up in the fourth inning, lowering her season ERA to 3.00.
Later in the final inning, Marissa Schuld came in to close the game in just eight pitches and giving up only one hit.
On the offensive side, Arizona scored 11 runs thanks to an explosive eight-run third inning that showcased the power of the lineup. In the inning, two players hit absolute bombs, Jessie Harper (10) and Hannah “Peanut” Martinez (3). The back-breaking hit cam from “Peanut,” whose home run was a three-run blast over the left-center field wall to put an exclamation point on the inning.
It was the bottom of the order that shined for Arizona, going an impressive 8-for-10 with three extra-base hits and collecting four RBIs. It was well known that Arizona has struggled to find any consistency at the bottom of the order; this is a much-needed game to help build confidence moving towards conference play.
Even though Harper’s home run was just a solo shot, it was a chance to see history for the Arizona fans in attendance. The home run marked career home run 76, tying Arizona legend Jenny Dalton for twelfth all-time in NCAA history.
Now, Arizona will start the always challenging Pac-12 schedule Friday at 6 p.m. local time with a three-game series against Oregon State.