Arizona Softball

Fifth-inning struggles haunt No. 8 Arizona in lopsided loss to No. 2 UCLA

Alyssa Denham talking to pitching coach Taryne Mowatt against UCLA (Troy Hutchison/AllSportsTucson.com)

Eight-ranked Arizona went with a variety of pitchers throughout Saturday’s Senior Day game to keep No. 2 UCLA’s batters off-balance, but the rotation caught up with the Wildcats in the fifth inning as the Bruins rallied for seven runs in their 7-2 series-clinching victory at Hillenbrand Stadium.

In a postgame ceremony, the Wildcats honored their heralded seven seniors — Reyna Carranco, Alyssa Denham, Jessie Harper, Mariah Lopez, Malia Martinez, Dejah Mulipola and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza.

The loss in the last regular-season game of their careers at Hillenbrand was one of three against UCLA in the series. Arizona, which won the only game against the Bruins in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, is 36-13 overall and 12-10 in the Pac-12.

Now it’s nail-biting time to see if Arizona will be one of the eight programs to host a Super Regional. The NCAA tournament selection committee will make that announcement Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Arizona was selected as one of 20 potential host sites for the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals.

In UCLA’s seven-run fifth inning Saturday, the Bruins (41-4, 19-2) had four hits, capped by a three-run blast by first baseman Kinsley Washington.  

Mike Candrea went with Lopez through the first two innings of the game then inserted Hanah Bowen in the next two innings.

Lopez and Bowen allowed two hits while compiling five strikeouts through the first four innings, helping the team keep a 1-0 lead.

Lopez eventually returned and ended the day going 4 2/3 innings on 59 pitches. She allowed two hits and had five strikeouts.

Here’s Lopez talking about her performance and discussing how it can help her going into the postseason:

In the fifth inning, Denham walked the leadoff batter and gave up a bloop single to increase the pressure on Arizona keeping its 1-0 lead.

Candrea quickly went with freshman Devyn Netz, who got out of a similar situation the night before.

Arizona didn’t get a repeat performance as Netz, of Ironwood Ridge High School, gave up five runs on two hits and two walks.

Here’s Candrea talking about the decision to pull Bowen after she pitched two innings and discussing his opinion on the team’s chances of hosting a Super Regional:

Arizona was able to put together some good at-bats against star player Rachel Garcia and got runners in scoring position early in the game. The Wildcats produced eight hits.

They had a bases-loaded opportunity in the first inning with one out but could not score after Sharlize Palacios popped out to the catcher and Palomino-Cardoza struck out. 

Peanut Martinez RBI single against UCLA (Troy Hutchison/AllSportsTucson.com)

Arizona scored both of its runs from the ninth spot in the order.

Hannah “Peanut” Martinez produced Arizona’s first run in the second inning.

Her hit scored pinch-runner Giulia Koutsoyanopulos from third. Koutsoyanopulos was a pinch-runner for former Tucson High standout Carlie Scupin, who doubled off the left field fence against Garcia.

In the sixth, freshman Allie Skaggs, an Ironwood Ridge grad, hit a bloop single to force in Arizona’s second run.

Here’s Peanut talking about her RBI single and discussing where her team needs to improve heading into the postseason:

Here’s Troy Hutchison and Ryan Kelapire from AZ Desert Swarm talking about the Arizona-UCLA series and discussing the chances of the Wildcats hosting a Super Regional:

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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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