Arizona Softball

No. 10 Arizona blows through Utah in series opener

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza celebrating with Janelle Meono (Troy Hutchison/AllSportsTucson.com)

Earlier this week, No. 10 Arizona reported that centerfielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza had no structural damage in her left knee in an injury suffered last week at ASU and would be week-to-week heading into its series this weekend against Utah at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Mike Candrea surprised everyone by putting Palomino-Cardoza back in centerfield and in the starting lineup against the Utes.

Arizona used that spark scoring six runs in the second inning, which led to a 12-1 five-inning run-rule of Utah to improve to 28-8 overall and 7-5 in the Pac-12.

Here’s Palomino-Cardoza talking about getting back on the field and discussing what was going through her head at the time of the injury:

Early in the game, Palomino-Cardoza was put to the test as a shallow fly ball was hit into centerfield causing her to make a diving catch to end the inning. At the plate, she went 1-for-2 with a single and a run.

Arizona pitcher Hanah Bowen made her first career series-opening start. Bowen tossed a gem of a game, going four innings on 56 pitches and gave up three hits with two strikeouts.

Here’s Bowen talking about her start and discussing what was working for her in the circle against the Utes:

Arizona went with Devyn Netz to close out the game in the fifth inning. She gave up two hits and a run.

Arizona put on a home run show as Jessie HarperCarlie ScupinMalia Martinez, and Sharlize Palacios went yard, with Palacios hitting two bombs.

Palacios went 3-for-3 with two home runs and five RBIs, raising her batting average to .404. The two homers give her 12 this season.

Jessie Harper home run 87 (Dan Netz/AllSportsTucson.com)

The home run for Harper was career homer 87, tying her with former Arizona catcher Stacie Chambers for fourth in NCAA history. She is eight home runs from tying the record set by Oklahoma hitter Lauren Chamberlain.

Here’s Chambers congratulating Harper on the career accomplishment and wishing her the best:

Here’s the NCAA career home run chart with Harper starting to approach former UCLA hitter Stacey Nuveman:

NCAA Softball Home Run Career List

 Name SchoolYears HR
1.Lauren ChamberlainOklahoma2012-1595
2T.Katiyana MaugaArizona2014-1792
2T.Jessie HarperArizona 2017-2192
4.Stacey NuvemanUCLA1997-0290
5.Stacie Chambers Arizona2008-1187

Arizona’s starting lineup achieved at least one hit, leading to the team scoring 12 runs off 15 hits. After struggling against ASU last week with runners in scoring position, Candrea altered the batting practice routine, and the Wildcats went an impressive 6-for-10 with runners on base.

Here’s Candrea talking about how Palomino-Cardoza played and discussing his team’s performance:

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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.

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