Arizona’s lineup stayed hot in the second game with California this weekend, scoring 11 runs Sunday in the first two innings to run-rule the Golden Bears 11-1 in five innings behind Jessie Harper’s 88th career home run.
Harper moved into fourth place on the NCAA career home run chart, passing former Arizona catcher Stacie Chambers, who had 87. Harper now is two homers away from tying former UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman for third.
In the first game on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium, Arizona also run-ruled Cal 9-0 in five innings.
The Wildcats are 33-8 overall and 11-5 in the Pac-12 with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Arizona, in third place in the Pac-12, is three games behind UCLA for the top spot in the conference.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 2, 2021
Arizona kept its bats alive against Cal on Sunday scoring 11 runs off 13 hits, including three home runs.
Reyna Carranco hit her first home run this season in the first inning.
Sharlize Palacios hit a solo shot, which ties her with Dejah Mulipola for the team lead in home runs at 15.
Harper belted her two-run blast in the left-field stands.
Here’s a complete chart of where Harper stands, showing how many home runs she needs to pass the career record set by Oklahoma’s Lauren Chamberlain:
NCAA Softball Home Run Career List
Here’s Harper talking about her home run and discussing why the lineup has been so effective over the last six games:
Since returning from her broken thumb injury, Carranco has been crushing the ball for Arizona with a batting average of .400 and an OBP of .492, helping solidify the top of the order. Against Cal, was 2-for-3 with three RBIs to go with her home run.
The top of the order has been productive for Arizona with Janelle Meoño in the middle of a 27-game hitting streak and batting .492, followed by a .400 hitter in Carranco, giving the middle of the lineup opportunities early in games to drive in runs.
Here’s Carranco talking about her two-run home run and discussing what it is like to hit behind Meoño in the order:
Coach Mike Candrea went with Alyssa Denham in the circle. Although it wasn’t the best Denham has pitched this season, she was able to work out of a jam in the first, stranding two runners and was solid from that point on.
Denham didn’t finish the game but tossed four scoreless innings on 79 pitches and gave up three hits while collecting two strikeouts. She lowered her ERA to 1.87.
Pitcher Mariah Lopez came in to close out the game in the fifth. In her previous two starts, Lopez allowed five home runs and eight runs in nine innings of work.
Lopez came in and threw a solid inning on 21 pitches but couldn’t keep Cal off the scoreboard, giving up the Golden Bears’ first run of the series.
Here’s Candrea talking about the series sweep and discussing his thoughts on the pitching in the final game against Cal:
For the series Arizona outscored Cal 20-1 while hitting 23-for-52 and an impressive 500 with runners in scoring position.
The Wildcats improved to 24-0 at home.
Arizona will now go on the road against No. 8 Oregon, which is coming off losing three of four games to No. 12 ASU.
The season is in the home stretch with two weeks until Selection Sunday.
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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.