Arizona Softball

Arizona loses seventh straight game but shows encouraging signs

Symbolic of a team on an extended losing streak, one that is now a program-record seven games for Arizona, the Wildcats just can’t put everything together.

Things looked promising for the No. 19 Wildcats, especially with their lineup finally producing with 11 hits against No. 11 Washington, another struggling team in the Pac-12.

But Caitlin Lowe’s team, now 19-11 overall and 0-7 in the conference, could not count on its pitching in the 12-7 loss to the Huskies in front of 2,654 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Washington (21-10, 2-5) answered Arizona’s awakening at the plate with 13 hits of its own, three of them home runs, to end a five-game losing streak after getting swept by UCLA at home last week.

Arizona’s seven-game losing streak tops the program’s previous longest dubious stretch of six games in the 2018 season. The Wildcats have never started a conference season with an 0-7 record.

Lowe said of Arizona’s production at the plate: “That was nice to see. They fed off each other. We have to figure out a way to transfer that from offense to defense and defense to offense — use the momentum throughout the entire game instead of just one-sided.”

Lowe made some changes to the lineup that worked, starting Blaise Biringer at right field in place of Peanut Martinez and inserting Sophia Carroll at Biringer’s normal spot of shortstop.

She moved Sharlize Palacios, mired in an 0-for-17 slump entering the game, from No. 2 in the batting order to No. 5.

Palacios started 0-for-2 Friday night, extending her slump to 0-for-19, before lining a single to center field in the fifth that was part of the Wildcats’ four-run rally with two outs that gave them a 7-5 lead.

Biringer followed Palacios’ hit with her third hit of the game, a run-scoring single. She finished 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI, breaking out from a 5-for-26 (.192) slump in her previous 15 games.

“Fantastic — they just went out and balled out,” Lowe said of Palacios and Biringer. “It didn’t matter who was on the mound today. It was just playing their form of softball. It’s refreshing to see that and if there’s any silver-lining is that we felt that and we’ve got to get the momentum on the other side (pitching and defense).”

Arizona showed its mettle scoring all seven of its runs with two outs.

The Wildcats snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak with Allie Skaggs’ single in the third inning with two outs. Amber Toven, pinch running for Carroll (who led off the inning with a single), scored on the play to put Arizona ahead 1-0.

It was the Wildcats’ first lead since defeating Marist 12-2 in five innings on March 13.

It was a short-lived lead with Washington slugger Olivia Johnson leading off the fourth inning with her first of two home runs in the game.

Arizona took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth on Paige Dimler’s two-run home run to left field.

Dimler’s rope of a hit, her third home run of the season, gave the Arizona lineup the lift it needed. The Wildcats’ three runs in the third and fourth innings were more than what they scored over the previous 42 innings in the six losses against UCLA and Arizona State.

“I think for all of us, getting hits and hitting the ball hard — we’ve really been focusing on hitting line drives and ground balls, and actually doing it, felt good for all of us and it was contagious,” said Carlie Scupin, the former Tucson High standout who belted her 13th home run of the season in the game.

Washington chased Arizona starter Hanah Bowen in fifth when the Huskies rallied for four runs to take a 5-3 lead.

Bowen struck out two and walked three and allowed seven hits with five runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings. She held Washington scoreless through the first three innings showing signs of her fiery self that she displayed in the last couple of years as a reliable pitcher.

“I saw her fist-pump for the first time that I’ve seen probably all season,” Lowe said of Bowen, who has endured personal tribulations this season, stepping away from the team briefly after the Mary Nutter Classic last month and being in an automobile accident before the series at UCLA.

“She made some great pitches and she knows she left some,” Lowe added. “I know she wishes she could have a couple back. We’re going to get more chances so it’s what she makes of those chances. I know now she wants the ball because she’s feeling her stuff a little bit more.”

Arizona’s four-run rally with two outs in the fifth game gave the Wildcats a 7-5 lead and they also chased Washington starter Gabbie Plain during the process.

Scupin’s two-run home run and RBI singles by Biringer and Dimler accounted for the runs.

“I was feeling good at the plate, realizing and noticing they need me and they needed me to get on,” said Biringer, the former Cienega standout who transferred from Ole Miss, where she was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team last season.

“Trusting myself felt good. I was able to trust myself and my abilities.”

Washington delivered the knockout blow with a seven-run rally — all coming on two outs — in the top of the sixth against relievers Devyn Netz and Jessie Fontes.

The Huskies’ barrage of five hits in the inning included an RBI triple by Madison Huskey, RBI double by Kinsey Fiedler, two-run single by Kelley Lynch and three-run home run by Jadelyn Allchin.

Washington reliever Pat Moore did not allow Arizona to record a hit in the sixth and seventh innings even though the Wildcats got the bat on the ball for the six outs.

Arizona will try to even the series on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Hillenbrand. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks and it will be broadcast on KTUC (1400-AM).

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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