Arizona Softball

Arizona starts season with three walk-off wins in first two days of Candrea Classic

Brooke Mannon gets kudos from her teammates after a four-inning perfect outing (Arizona Athletics)

Brooke Mannon and Ali Blanchard pitched the first combined perfect game in Arizona history in the first game of a doubleheader in which the Wildcats run-ruled Lipscomb and North Texas in the Candrea Classic at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday night.

Mannon went four innings and Blanchard worked the fifth inning in the first game.

“Setting the tone for the day, I thought Brooke did a great job of doing that,” Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said. “Then to kind of seamlessly go to A.B. (Blanchard) that felt like a good transition. She took over right where we left off. I thought our hitters were just relentless all day, which was great to see.”

Arizona scored a combined 16 runs in the doubleheader on Friday night.

“They were hitting a lot of stuff right at people, which can usually make you get frustrated, but they just chipped away and figured out a way to score some runs,” Lowe said. “So, it felt really good, and we played some good softball as far as bunting and moving runners over.”

The stellar four-inning outing from Mannon, a freshman, and a balanced attack on offense helped Arizona coast to an 8-0 run-rule win over Lipscomb (0-1) in the first game of the doubleheader.

Mannon, of West Jefferson, Ohio, was a three-time all-state player and the 2023 Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year in high school.

“I was a little nervous in the beginning, but as soon as I got out there, and I had everyone talking to me on the infield, and then I could see the outfielders were excited, it kind of went away. It was fun,” Mannon said of her performance in the circle.

Mannon (1-0) pitched four no-hit innings with no walks and had five strikeouts for the win. 

Lowe said the decision to take her out and let Blanchard finish the game was to save her arm for game two of the doubleheader and the weekend ahead as the team deals with a limited pitching rotation.

Arizona is currently down three pitchers — Freshman Ryan Maddox is out with a season-ending foot injury, sophomore Sydney Somerndike is recovering from offseason surgery and senior Devyn Netz is day-to-day with an undisclosed medical issue, leaving Mannon, Blanchard, Aissa SilvaMiranda Stoddard as the only pitchers.

“Depending on what we needed for game two, that’s the thing about doubleheaders. We’ve got to figure out how the four of them are going to work together for a prolonged season,” Lowe said.

A two-run RBI double that bounced off the wall in right-center from Emily Schepp got the offense rolling for Arizona (2-0) in the bottom of the second. A two-out sac fly from Jasmine Perezchica brought Schepp home to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead heading into the third.

Schepp, a freshman catcher from Torrance, Calif., helped the OC Batbusters Stith win the 2023 Alliance National Championship and Torrance High School Softball MVP in her senior year.

Lowe is impressed with the way Schepp has performed at the plate in Arizona’s first three games. Schepp had two hits and four RBIs in a limited role at the plate in Arizon’a first three games.

“She’s had great composure at the play,” Lowe said. “I think she’s done a good job, too, and our whole team has really learning off the person in front of them.”

An RBI double to the gap in left-center by Blaise Biringer drove in Allie Skaggs to put Arizona up 4-0 in the bottom of the third.

Carlie Scupin hit the 40th home run of her career, scoring Perezchica to extend Arzona’s lead to 6-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. 

Blanchard took the circle for Arizona, relieving Mannon in the top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, an RBI single up the middle by Logan Cole scored Biringer, and a wild pitch from Lipscomb pitcher Macey Ogle brought Cole home to put the Wildcats up 8-0.

In game two of the doubleheader, an explosion of offense in the bottom of the third sparked Arizona to pull away from North Texas.

Stoddard made her second career start for Arizona in game two of the doubleheader. After playing three seasons at Kentucky, the senior transferred to Arizona in the offseason.

Skylar Savage got the start for North Texas (1-1).

With the game still scoreless in the top of the third, Silva replaced Stoddard after she gave up a one-out single to Cierra Simon.  After Simon was caught stealing second, Silva struck out Elizabeth Moffit to retire the side. 

Lowe thinks Stoddard, who pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in a 10-1 win over Utah Tech in the season opener on Thursday, has played well early on in the season.

“I think she stayed with her strengths the first two times that she got the ball, and she’s been able to pitch into our defense who’s been playing great behind her, and that’s kind of her role that she’s been filling,” Lowe said. “Aissa came in for lefty stretch that we thought she would be successful in.”

In the bottom of the third, a walk for Perezchica and a single each from Dakota Kennedy and Scupin loaded the bases against Savagewho appeared in 23 games, starting in 14 for North Texas last season, and was named to the Conference USA All-Preseason Team in 2023.

Then Olivia DiNardo blasted a grand slam over the left-center wall to put the Wildcats up 4-0.

“I was just kind of thinking all night that I was going have a moment like this because yesterday I got walked all three times. So, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to have a moment like this,'” DiNardo said.

DiNardo went a combined 4 for 6 with five RBIs in the doubleheader.

Pinch hitter Paige Dimler singled to center field, and advanced to second on a fielding error by North Texas center fielder Kalei Christensen which advanced Biringer to third. Schepp would ground out to shortstop but Biringer scored on the play to put Arizona up 5-0. 

After Savage walked Tayler Biehl, a wild pitch brought pinch runner Regan Shockey home to extend Arizona’s lead to 6-0.

McKenzie Wagoner came in to relieve Savage and closed out the inning.

An RBI single to left field from DiNardo brought in Perezchica to give Arizona a 7-0 lead heading into the fifth.

Kennedy singled up the middle to score Shockey, and Arizona walked off with an 8-0 run-rule win in the bottom of the fifth.

After Arizona run-ruled its first three opponents, Lowe is especially pleased with the offense in Friday’s doubleheader. However, she still sees room for improvement in how the hitters approached the game on Thursday against Utah Tech.

“They play good fundamental softball,” Lowe said. “They’re very dangerous when they don’t try to do too much, and I think yesterday we actually tried to do way too much, and we hit into a lot of easy outs, whereas today we made them make tough plays, and I think that’s the biggest thing for this team.”

Arizona notched its first win on Thursday afternoon, run-ruling Utah Tech 10-1 to open the season in the Candrea Classic.

The Wildcats held a 1-0 lead over Utah Tech through three innings before pulling away, scoring four runs in the fourth and five runs in the fifth inning to run-rule the Trailblazers.

Stoddard’s 4 2/3 scoreless innings earned her the win. She allowed four hits and one walk while striking out one in a 64-pitch outing. 

Arizona next plays North Texas on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium.

FOLLOW @KEVINMURFEE ON TWITTER! writer Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top