Arizona Softball

No. 8 Arizona gets crushed by No. 2 UCLA in series opener

Alyssa Denham against UCLA (Troy Hutchison/AllSportsTucson.com)

eighth-ranked Arizona started the game against No. 2 UCLA with two quick outs as Alyssa Denham seemed to be locked in early. Then, on an 0-2 count to superstar Bruins player, Rachel Garcia things changed quickly as Garcia hit a solo shot sending the top of the first inning into a downward spiral for the Wildcats, who saw back-to-back-to-back two-out solo shots to start the game. 

After that horrific first inning, Arizona couldn’t recover as the Bruins hit a total of five solo shots in the game, going to a dominating 8-0 fifth inning run-rule causing the Wildcats to fall to 35-11 and 12-8 in the Pac-12.

The last time Arizona was shut out at home was during a series against Oregon in 2015 during a 3-0 loss. The last time the Wildcats got run-ruled at home was in that same series against the Ducks losing 15-7 fifth inning game.

Denham coming into the game, had been able to keep the ball in the ballpark giving up five home runs in 25 appearances. Against the Bruins, she gave up four home runs in the first two innings of the game and was pulled after giving up a lead-off home run to hitter Aaliyah Jordan to start the second. 

After the game, Denham was unavailable for postgame interviews.

Coach Mike Candrea turned to Mariah Lopez to stop the bleeding, but she was unable to do so, giving up runs in the second, third, and fourth. Lopez ended her night going three innings on 56 pitches giving up seven hits for four runs.

The only pitcher who was able to succeed against UCLA was freshman Devyn Netz who came into pitch the fifth inning and was able to get a shut-out inning for Arizona. 

Here’s catcher Dejah Mulipola talking about what went wrong in the first inning and discussing why it is difficult to hit a pitcher like Garcia:

Offensively, Arizona couldn’t find a rhythm against Garcia collecting just two hits throughout the game and struggled to get consistent solid contact.

Garcia went five innings on 81 pitches allowing two hits while striking out two batters along the way. Arizona was unable to get may opportunities and lift just three runners on base for the night.

The only bright spot in the lineup was Janelle Meoño, who went 1-for-2 with a single to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Meoño also made a home run robbing catch in the third inning to save some runners from getting on the board.

Here’s Meoño talking about how the team can grow from this game and discussing her thoughts on hitting a pitcher like Garcia:

UCLA hit five home runs in the game; however, that wasn’t the key stat of the game. The Bruins flexed their muscles with the ability to hit with two-outs, going an incredible 7-for-12 with three of those hits coming in the first inning, putting Arizona in an early hole.

Here’s Candrea talking about what went wrong and discussing the keys to turning the series around:

Here’s a postgame recap from Troy Hutchison and AZ Desert Swarm’s Ryan Kelapire sharing their thoughts on Arizona’s rough night:

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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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