Arizona Softball

Arizona falls 13-2 to Washington in six innings in Pac-12 home opener

A slight sprinkle wasn’t enough to delay the game on Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium. (Arizona Athletics)

No. 22 Arizona went down early, and an explosive sixth inning from Washington put the game well out of reach for the Wildcats in a 13-2 six-inning run-rule loss to No. 7 Washington in its Pac-12 home opener at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday evening. 

Jillian Celis and Alana Johnson’s back-to-back solo home runs over the left field wall extended Washington’s lead to 6-1 in the top of the fifth. 

Washington loaded the bases off consecutive errors with no outs in the top of the sixth before exploding into a seven-run inning that included an RBI single by Gisele Alvarez, followed by three consecutive home runs from Celis, Alana Johnson and Kinsley Fieldler to stretch the lead to 13-1.

Arizona went down 3-0 in the top of the first inning, something that Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe says impacted the approach for the Wildcats and something Arizona starting pitcher Aissa Silva can learn from.

“It felt like we were on our heels more than in attack mode. I think that’s the biggest thing with a team like that. You can’t just kind of let that momentum slide in their favor that fast, Lowe said. I know Aissa was one of the biggest voices in that circle right there, and I think she’s wearing that and is going to respond better. It’s a good learning experience if it doesn’t happen again, and just using it as motivation.”

Ruby Meylan (8-2) shut down Arizona’s offense most of the evening, striking out 10, while allowing two runs off five hits.

“I thought when we hit strikes and made her throw in the zone, we did well, and so when we expanded our zone, we got into trouble. I think that’s when good pitchers will get to you — when they take you out of your own at-bats,” Lowe said. “We all proved we can hit the pitches she throws in the zone, and it’s just a matter of making that adjustment, being patient, and really just being ourselves. Not playing her game but being able to play our game as hitters.”

Silva (11-2) gave up four runs off six hits in three innings in the loss.

Washington (19-3, 3-1) came out of the gate firing, scoring three runs off five hits in the top of the first from an RBI double from Celis and RBI singles from Olivia Johnson and Brooke Nelson.

The Huskies continued to give Silva trouble in the top of the third, with Johnson hitting an RBI sacrifice fly to deep center field, putting the Huskies up 4-0. 

Ali Blanchard came in to relieve Silva to begin the top of the fourth.

Arizona (19-6-1, 2-2) got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Blaise Biringer hit an RBI double off the left-field wall, scoring Allie Skaggs, who had earlier walked to reach base.

Blanchard allowed nine runs off six hits in three innings.

Washington had 12 hits, including five home runs, on Friday evening.

Biringer says the team needs to stay together and reset to move on from tonight’s performance.

“I don’t think we’re going to really harp on what we did wrong. I think that’s just kind of the wrong thing to do,” she said of how the team will approach the remainder of the series with Washington.

Arizona plays Washington 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.

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