Jessie Harper blasted a two-run home run over the left-field wall in the third inning for career homer 90, lifting Arizona to a 7-0 win Friday over Maryland-Baltimore County and its ace Courtney Coppersmith in the Tucson Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Coppersmith entered with a 0.65 ERA, fourth-best in the NCAA.
Harper’s homer in the third opened things up against Coppersmith.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 22, 2021
The Wildcats (37-13) advance to the winners’ bracket Saturday to face Ole Miss.
The home run by Harper tied her with former UCLA standout Stacey Nuveman for third on the NCAA career softball home run chart.
Here’s a chart showing Harper’s climb on the list as she now needs five home runs to tie former Oklahoma star Lauren Chamberlain for the record:
NCAA Softball Home Run Career List
After coming up short with the bases loaded and nobody out, Arizona’s offense woke up putting seven runs on the board off nine hits and two home runs.
The second home run for Arizona came from catcher Sharlize Palacios, who hit a bomb over the right-field wall, a two-run shot, scoring Dejah Mulipola on the play.
This was the first time Palacios has played NCAA postseason softball, and she rose to the occasion, going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs.
With this being the first postseason for Arizona’s freshmen, Palacios and Janelle Meoño put their best foot forward, going an impressive 5-for-7, giving the team a spark when they needed it the most.
Arizona went with Hanah Bowen in the circle to open the Tucson Regional. In the first inning, Bowen found herself in some trouble after giving up a lead-off hit to Maddie Daigneau and got in a jam with two on and no outs to start things off.
Bowen was able to record three straight outs to get out of the jam and was effective from that point on, pitching a complete-game shutout on 81 pitches and allowed one hit while striking out four batters.
Here’s Bowen talking about what she was seeing on the mound and discussing how she was able to get out of the first-inning jam:
One of the keys to Arizona’s success against UMBC and Coppersmith was the ability to get the offense going early in innings. The Wildcats’ lead-off hitter in each inning went 4-for-6, helping set the table for the lineup, and the power hitters were able to capitalize on that by going 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Here’s Mike Candrea talking about his team’s performance and discussing what he liked about Bowen’s start:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.