Arizona Softball

Arizona starts 0-5 in Pac-12 after ASU wins on a home-run barrage in the fifth

Arizona has reached its worst start in its Pac-10/12 history with an 0-5 record following Saturday’s 11-0 loss in five innings to Arizona State at Hillenbrand Stadium.

But nobody in the Arizona dugout is showing signs of panic quite yet.

“Stay in the present,” Arizona center fielder Giulia Koutsoyanopulos said. “Obviously, that (loss) hurts. You want to think about it a little, but tomorrow — a new day.”

Arizona (19-9) last started 0-5 in the Pac-10/12 in the 1989 season.

The Wildcats can gain some confidence knowing that Mike Candrea team with Stacy Engel and Julie Standering went 11-4 the rest of the conference season and advanced to the Women’s College World Series after beating ASU in the Tempe regional.

Caitlin Lowe, in her first season after replacing Candrea, needs some kind of spark to kindle a fire within her team after getting swept (all shutout losses) at UCLA last week and losing the first two games this weekend against ASU by a combined score of 20-2.

Arizona has only two runs — on a home run by Carlie Scupin in the third inning Friday — in its last 34 innings.

Lowe, whose longest losing streak while playing at Arizona from 2004-07 was only three games, held an extended meeting in left field after Saturday’s loss and that was followed by a 10-minute players-only meeting.

“Control what we can control — our preparation, relying on the fact that we put in the work,” Lowe told reporters afterward concerning the approach her players should take in a stretch like this.

“Trusting it, and trusting each other. I think the biggest things with times like these is staying together and playing as one and not feeling like you have the pressure of the world on your shoulders when you’re hitting and when you’re pitching.”

Koutsoyanopulos, in her first starting role with Arizona in centerfield this season, mentioned the players-only meeting was meant to “get our heads right and get things going.”

“We’re all stepping up; I think we’re all in it together and we’re going to work little by little,” she said.

Nobody with the Wildcats wants to use the excuse that a coaching change and an overhaul of Arizona’s lineup has contributed to the struggles to this point.

But it’s obvious it will take time for the Caitlin Lowe era to be established and for the team to adapt without the likes of Jessie Harper, Reyna Carranco, Dejah Mulipola, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, Malia Martinez, Mariah Lopez and Alyssa Denham.

“I think we know what to do, it’s just not clicking right now,” Koutsoyanopulos said. “We know what we need to do. We’re there.”

Arizona will try to avoid getting swept at Hillenbrand by ASU for the first time since 2011 when the teams play at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The Sun Devils (24-5, 5-0) have won 13 consecutive games and have earned a series win over Arizona in Tucson for the first time since the 2015 season.

Salpointe graduate Yannira Acuña went 2 for 3 with a run and RBI for the Sun Devils. She leads ASU with a .479 batting average with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBIs.

Devyn Netz (8-4) managed to work her way out of jams in the first and second innings but Jazmyn Rollin broke through with a three-run home run in the third inning with two outs.

ASU scored all of its runs with two outs, including Acuña‘s RBI double in the fourth and then a home run barrage in the fifth inning by Jessica Puk, Alynah Torres and Cydney Sanders.

Arizona finished with two hits against Lindsay Lopez, who struck out three and did not walk a batter. The Wildcats only twice hit the ball out of the infield, resulting in two flyouts.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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