After sweeping the Easton Crimson Classic last weekend, Arizona was back in action Friday night to open up the Wildcat Invitational against South Dakota.
The final score of this game, a 9-1 run-rule, didn’t show how Arizona struggled after the first inning. In the first inning, Arizona put three runs across, which featured a two-run blast from Jessie Harper, making it 74 home runs in her Arizona career, and still counting.
Once Arizona’s offense went silent, it was Mariah Lopez who not only “picked up the slack” but completely dominated the South Dakota lineup. Lopez had a perfect game through five innings.
In the fifth inning with two outs, South Dakota’s Lauren Wobken hit a home run to left field, just over the outstretched arm of Hannah “Peanut” Martinez to break up the perfect game.
Outside of that, Lopez was flawless, going six strong innings of one-hit softball. She finished with six strikeouts in an impressive outing.
It wasn’t until the sixth inning when Arizona finally saw its offense wake up and put runs on the board. It all started when Martinez popped up the ball along the third-base line in foul territory. The South Dakota third baseman dropped the ball, giving Peanut another chance at the plate.
That was a chance that she took full advantage of by hitting a rocket over the center-left field wall for her second home run of the season. The home run helped give a much-needed spark at the back end of the order.
Most of the season, Martinez has struggled at the plate to an already unstable bottom of the order. However, in the past three games, she has gone 5-for-9 with two home runs and three RBIs.
After the home run, Arizona played a little small ball to help not only stretch its lead to 9-1 but ending the game in walk-off fashion as Izzy Pacho was able to put the ball in play to score the game-winning run.
Even though Arizona was able to take care of business, they once again came out of the gates with a slow start seeming sluggish at times.
Coach Mike Candrea wasn’t thrilled with Friday’s game, and how is team performed against lower level opponents.