Arizona was supposed to play Pac-12 opponent Oregon State in a non-conference game on Saturday at noon. However, it was announced an hour before the first pitch that the game had been rescheduled to Sunday due to COVID-19 issues in the Colorado State program ending their stay in Tucson.
With one less team able to play in the Wildcat Invitational, schedules were shuffled to ensure everyone could get the same number of games played.
The Wildcats played BYU for a second time in the Wildcat Invitational a couple of hours later in the day. The team got off to a slow start and fell behind as starting pitcher Mariah Lopez gave up a solo shot in the top of the third inning.
They answered in the bottom half of the inning with eight runs on seven hits, then cruised to an 11-3 six-inning victory improving to 9-0 on the season. Arizona has run-ruled eight of its first nine opponents outscoring them 81-9.
It was another rough start for Lopez in the circle as she gave up two home runs. In the grand scheme of things, three runs don’t look like much of an issue. However, this makes three-straight games that she has given up a long bomb, and she has allowed four home runs so far this season in just three starts.
Offensively Arizona was once again on fire scoring 11 runs on 12 hits and racking up another two home runs from Jessie Harper (her second) and Carlie Scupin (fifth), who hit a grand slam in the Wildcats’ eight-run third inning.
Scupin was listed as the No. 2 freshman to watch for the 2021 season by D1 Softball, and during her time at Tucson High, she established herself as one of the state’s best power hitters with a career 44 home runs. The hype is real, and it doesn’t take long after you watch her play to understand why Mike Candrea was excited about getting the power slugger. In the nine games Arizona has played, she leads the team in homers and is second in RBIs with 16 with a slugging percentage of 1.150, leaving no doubt that she is one of the top freshmen in that country.
One of the most underrated players not only on the team but in the Pac-12 is third basemen Malia Martinez who has been a consistent force for Arizona since the 2019 season. Martinez has been solid at the plate this season, hitting .440 with three home runs and 10 RBIs while hitting fifth in the order.
Here are Martinez and Scupin talking about what the team did before the game and discussing what they learned out on the field after a slow start:
Arizona will close the Wildcat Invitational with Oregon State on Sunday at 11 a.m., which is the first major-conference team it has faced this season.
Here’s Candrea talking about his team’s slow start and discussing what has been the problem for Lopez in the circle this season:
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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.