Arizona Softball

Arizona run-rules Oregon to win first Pac-12 series of season

Finally, in its fifth Pac-12 series of the season, Arizona has emerged victorious winning two out of three games against Oregon, capped by a 12-4 victory in five innings Saturday over Oregon at Hillenbrand Stadium.

After getting swept by Pac-12 leaders UCLA and ASU, and losing two of three to Washington and Oregon State, the Wildcats dispatched the Ducks as series winners in the rubber match.

“It feels so good, and, yes, it’s a long time coming, but you know what? This is what builds strong teams,” said winning pitcher Devyn Netz, who improved to 10-5. “Right now, we’re on a high and we’re going to keep going from here.”

Sharlize Palacios continues her torrid hitting with a 3 for 3 performance with five RBIs against Oregon on Saturday in a 12-4 win (photo courtesy of Troy Hutchison of

Netz’s ability to get out of potential danger in the second and third innings demonstrates how she and Arizona have made a change for the better with their confidence. The Ducks stranded two runners in each of those innings, including one on third base each inning.

The Wildcats (23-14, 4-11 Pac-12) preserved their 3-0 lead built in the first inning off a two-run home run by Sharlize Palacios and a solo shot by Carlie Scupin.

“I just love that she went right at hitters and gave our defense a chance,” Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe said of Netz. “(The ball) could have found a hole but it didn’t. She really tried to spin it through the zone and gave us a chance to make plays. I thought she was working ahead in the count all day.

“You can just see that she wanted every single out and knew she was going to get outs.”

Netz picked up two wins in the series against Oregon (25-13, 5-10) after losing six of her seven previous matchups when she factored in the decision.

She recorded two outs in the sixth inning of Thursday’s 11-8 victory before Hanah Bowen re-entered in the seventh to record the save.

In the win Saturday, Netz pitched four innings and allowed seven hits with four runs (all earned) with only one walk and five strikeouts.

“She had ice in her veins today,” Palacios said of Netz, who is now 13-5 in her two-year career at Arizona. “I think she had something to prove, not only to the coaches but to herself. She wanted it for herself but more so for the team.”

After trailing Oregon in the first inning of the first two games — 4-0 on Thursday and 2-0 on Friday –Arizona established an early 3-0 lead Saturday behind the home runs by Palacios and Scupin.

Palacios belted her 11th home run of the season, a two-run shot that plated Jasmine Perezchica (singled to lead off the inning), and Scupin hit her 15th home run, a solo shot with two outs.

Palacios’ blast continued to show her awakening at the plate after batting .197 through Arizona’s first 29 games. In the last eight games, she has batted 14 of 25 (.560) with five home runs and 15 RBIs.

She finished 3 for 3 with two runs and five RBIs on Saturday as the No. 2 hitter. Perezchica, the leadoff hitter, went 3 for 4 with three runs to improve her batting average to .421.

“She’s huge for us,” Lowe said of Palacios’ recent productivity at the plate. “Just having good examples to follow. When she comes up and doesn’t hit the pop up but hits the laser home run, a line drive over the fence, that sets the tone for us.

“When they see good examples, that gets contagious. It really doesn’t matter who it is as long as someone is setting that up at the top.”

The lead became 4-0 for Arizona in the third inning on Blaise Biringer’s sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored pinch-runner Amber Toven, who came in after Palacios singled to lead off the inning.

A five-run fourth inning answered Oregon’s three runs at the top of the inning, again showing the moxie Arizona has that it did not display early in the Pac-12 season. The Wildcats started their rally by loading the bases with no outs.

Izzy Pacho’s two-run double and Biringer’s RBI double highlighted the rally that built Arizona’s lead to 9-3.

Oregon cut the lead to 9-4 when Terra McGowan homered off Netz to start the fifth inning. Bowen entered and got three straight outs, including two by strikeouts.

Arizona slammed the door with a mercy-rule win with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth after loading the bases again with no outs.

Palacios had a two-run single and Allie Skaggs brought home the winning run on a sacrifice fly.

“I think it’s not how you start, it’s how you end, and I think we’re moving a good trend going upward,” Palacios said. “We’re doing a good job of maintaining our emotions and trying to keep it positive.”

Arizona next plays UTEP in a doubleheader Tuesday starting at 2 p.m. at Hillenbrand. The Wildcats return to Pac-12 play on Friday at Utah for a three-game series.

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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