Coming into Friday night’s game against New Mexico State, No. 8 Arizona had been riding an eight-game winning streak after sweeping Stanford last weekend.
The Wildcats started off taking a commanding five-run lead after scoring four in the first and one in the third.
After a rally from New Mexico State to tie the game at five, Arizona ripped off six straight runs to win the game 11-5 to improve to 23-5 on the season.
In the circle, Arizona went with Alyssa Denham, who in the previous series was lights out, pitching 12 innings and giving up zero runs. Denham started the game off solid, but in the top of the fourth, the Aggies scored five runs and hit a three-run blast to tie the game.
The rough inning ended Denham’s night, going four innings, giving up five runs and three hits on 69 pitches.
Sharlize Palacios hit two home runs and had four RBIs.
After Denham’s rough start, pitcher Hanah Bowen came in and gave her team a much-needed shot in the arm, with three scoreless innings on 44 pitches and giving up one hit to keep the Aggies at bay.
Later in the game, shortstop Jessie Harper put the finishing touch on the night by hitting her ninth home run of the season. The home run gave Harper her 85 career blast putting her in a three-way tie for fifth on the NCAA career home run chart, tying former Wildcats Leah Braatz and Laura Espinoza.
Here’s the chart showing where Harper stacks up against softball’s great power hitters:
NCAA Softball Home Run Career List
|11T.||Jessica Warren||Florida State||2015-18||83|
Here are Harper and Palacios talking about the win over New Mexico State and discussing Saturday’s game against Team Mexico:
A bright spot of the game for Arizona and the Wildcats’ fans in Hillenbrand came in the bottom of the sixth when second baseman Reyna Carranco was announced as a pinch hitter. It was her first appearance in a game since Feb. 20, when she broke her thumb three games into the season.
Here’s Mike Candrea talking about his team’s performance and discussing how he plans to work Carranco back into the lineup:
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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.