Arizona Softball

Sharlize Palacios’ walk-off home run beats Washington, ends eight-game losing streak

The way Sharlize Palacios battled back from a 0-for-16 slump entering the Washington series to smacking the walk-off home run Sunday in a 10-9 win is symbolic of how No. 19 Arizona persevered through their struggles in the first three weekends of the Pac-12 season.

Arizona’s program-record eight-game losing streak and Palacios’ difficulties at the plate were effectively wiped out by Palacios’ blast that cleared the left-center field wall.

“Amazing — for herself, for the team, everything — everybody wanted it for her so bad,” said Caitlin Lowe of Palacios’ breakthrough. “Sometimes it just takes time and when it’s your time, now she’s coming through and our bats are catching fire because of it.”

Arizona (20-12, 1-8 Pac-12) came into the series losing six straight games to UCLA and ASU while scoring only two runs on 14 hits in 38 innings. The Wildcats were shut out five times in those six games, including two five-inning losses to the Sun Devils last weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The Wildcats scored 22 runs on 35 hits in the 21 innings against the 11th-ranked Huskies (22-10, 3-6) in the three games at Hillenbrand this weekend.

Palacios entered the series batting .175. She is now hitting .239, looking more and more like the player who batted .348 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs last season.

What a difference a week makes. Last week, after former Arizona pitcher Marissa Schuld, now at ASU, recorded a five-inning perfect game against the Wildcats, Palacios was in tears and Lowe talked with her well after the game in left field.

After her walk-off home run against Washington, she was jubilant, hugging her teammates as if Arizona earned a win at the Women’s College World Series.

“Truthfully, it was a hard time for me before,” Palacios said. “But I really had people like Izzy (Pacho, who was standing next to her in the interview), my sister, my dad and all my friends hanging on to me tight and telling me it’s going to pay off.

“It did. I told everyone, ‘Those three weeks (in the slump), I don’t care.’ I wouldn’t trade it for this.”

Arizona came close to defeating Washington in the first two games of the series. The Huskies, showing resiliency after losing five consecutive games entering the weekend, rallied from deficits in the late innings Friday and Saturday to win the first two games.

They scored seven runs in the sixth inning Friday in a 12-7 win. They rallied for five runs in the seventh inning Saturday in the 7-5 victory.

Washington looked like it would again subdue the Wildcats with a four-run rally in the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. All those runs were unearned because three errors prolonged the inning for the Huskies.

“It was hard because it felt like so many things were right and then one piece of the game would be wrong,” said Lowe when asked about how she handled the losing streak personally. “Today, it was defense, but we said, ‘Who cares?’ We didn’t have it defensively in that sixth inning.

“That’s what was frustrating. The offense was there. The pitching was there. It really felt like no matter what, everybody battled their tails off.”

Lowe added that she gives credit to Hanah Bowen for “shutting them down and slamming the door” in the top of the seventh, retiring three straight batters after giving up a leadoff single to Sami Reynolds.

“It fired us up to go hit,” Lowe said.

Bowen (7-5) earned the win after pitching the final three innings. She allowed two hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Pacho, an Ironwood Ridge grad who grew up on the southside, lived up to her hometown hero status with a hard-hit single to left field. Allie Enright was inserted as a pinch-runner for her.

Palacios then lined a 1-1 pitch off Washington reliever Pat Moore over the left field wall to finally get Arizona that win it had been chasing since defeating Marist 12-2 in five innings 21 days ago at Hillenbrand.

“I knew we were going to win from the beginning,” Pacho said. “We were saying it the whole game, ‘We’re winning this game no matter what.’ So in the seventh, with Scoop (Carlie Scupin), me and her (Palacios) up, we knew someone was going to do it — just having confidence in each other and trusting the process.

“Losing sucks but we hold on to each other. We have each other’s backs. We kept each other in it. We kept looking towards each other and said, ‘We’re going to figure it out. It’s going to come together at some point.’ When it does, there’s no better feeling.”

NOTES: Pacho went 3-for-4, Paige Dimler was 2-for-2 and Sophia Carroll finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs to tie their career-best totals of hits. … Ironwood Ridge grad Allie Skaggs hit her 10th home run of the season and Carlie Scupin, a Tucson High grad, belted her 14th. … Arizona travels to Oregon State next weekend for a three-game series starting Friday at 6 p.m.

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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