After dropping the first game of the doubleheader in a 6-2 loss, No. 8 Arizona had its backs against the wall needing a victory to keep its hopes alive for hosting a Super Regional.
Catcher Dejah Mulipola rose to the occasion, crushing a two-out two-run bomb over the left field wall giving her team their first lead in the series in the bottom of the third.
Arizona took that momentum and beat the Bruins 5-1 in a game that the team needed to win. With the victory, the Wildcats improve to 36-12 with still a chance to split the series against UCLA right before selection Sunday.
Mulipola was the spark Arizona needed against UCLA to get its offense going.
After her two-out home run, she came up to the plate with the Bruins changing pitchers and bringing in Rachel Garcia to try to get things back in order; she was able to come through for the Wildcats with another two-out hit singling in two runs to give her team a commanding 5-0 lead.
For the day, Mulipola went 3-for-7 with two home runs and six RBIs, giving her team the spark it needs against UCLA heading into Saturday’s series finale.
Here’s Mulipola talking about the adjustments her team made and discussing what changed for her in the circle from Friday’s blowout loss:
Arizona started Alyssa Denham in the circle, making her second appearance in the series. In the first game of the series, Denham struggled and gave up four home runs in the first two innings giving UCLA all the momentum.
Things changed for Denham the second time around against UCLA. She went a strong six innings and was able to keep the ball in the park. Although she wasn’t perfect, she was able to pitch around walks and gave up one run during the game.
Denham ended her night going six innings on 126 pitches, giving up two hits with five strikeouts. She had eight walks causing her pitch count to rise.
The walks forced Mike Candrea to go to his bullpen and bring in freshman Devyn Netz in the seventh inning with two on and nobody out and Garcia up to the plate.
In the first three games of the series, Garcia was red hot at the plate for UCLA during clutch situations with two home runs and three RBIs.
With the game on the line, Netz was able to get Garcia to hit a sharp ground ball on the first pitch to Hannah “Peanut” Martinez at third, who was able to step on the bag and throw across the diamond to get the crucial double play.
Netz went on to get another grounder to seal the victory for Arizona, recording her first career save in a game the Wildcats needed to have.
Here’s Netz, an Ironwood Ridge graduate, talking about coming in during that high-pressure situation and discussing her mindset when facing Garcia, who was killing the Wildcats this series:
— Troy Hutchison (@THutch1995) May 15, 2021
Arizona struggled to get critical hits when it needed them the most against UCLA through the first two games of the series. In the final game of the doubleheader, the Wildcats got those clutch hits with two outs scoring four of the five runs.
Here’s Candrea talking about his team being able to bounce back and discussing what was the difference for Denham the second time around against the Bruins:
Arizona is now 5-12 against top 25 opponents and will look for the series split Saturday with the game starting at 1 p.m. local time with the game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
Here’s a postgame recap with Troy Hutchison and AZ Desert Swarm’s Ryan Kelapire discussing how Arizona was able to finally get to the UCLA pitching staff and talking about the postseason outlook after the big win:
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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.