Arizona Softball

Scary injury overshadows No. 21 Arizona’s 7-5 win over No. 22 Oregon

Dakota Kennedy, left, greets Olivia DiNardo at home after DiNardo’s two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. (Arizona Athletics)

A pair of two-run home runs from Carlie Scupin and Olivia DiNardo in the bottom of the third inning helped Aissa Silva and No. 21 Arizona pull away from No. 22 Oregon 7-5 on Friday night at Hillenbrand Stadium, but a scary injury to Oregon center fielder Hanna Delgado made the results on the field feel like an afterthought.

Arizona (27-12-1, 8-8 Pac-12) held a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Tayler Biehl hit a line drive to deep center. Delgado appeared to make the diving catch, but after she collided head-first into the center field wall, the ball fell to the warning track, and Delgado didn’t get up.

The game stopped for about 10 minutes, and both teams met on the first base line near Oregon’s dugout in a prayer circle while trainers tended to Delgado. She eventually left the stadium in an ambulance on a stretcher.

“I think it is a flash of shock to everybody, and then at the same time — we have a lot of girls on our team that are really good friends with her — just a whole lot of worry,” Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said. “We had a lot of concern, especially when you see the paramedics go out there. But just thinking about her and Missy (Oregon head coach Melyssa Lombardi) sounded like it was positive, so that makes me feel better. But just thinking about her. You never want to see that happen in a game ever. We’re out here playing a fun game that we love with our friends, and it should never have to end that way for someone. So, just thinking about her and wishing her the best.”

Once the game resumed, Jasmine Perezchica grounded out to second, and Biehl scored, extending Arizona’s lead to 7-2.

In the top of the sixth,  Emma Kauf and Katie Flannery singled with two two-outs, and Tehya Bird followed with a three-run home run to narrow Arizona’s lead to 7-5.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Oregon (23-14, 9-6 Pac-12) made one last push. Ariel Carlson walked, and Alyssa Daniell followed with a single, but Carlson was tagged out to end the game when she rounded second.

Lowe says winning the first game against Oregon sets the tone for the series but that the team will have to take advantage of opportunities at the plate for the remainder of the series.

“I think really big, setting the tone,” she said. “I thought the four-run inning was huge for us, and then being able to respond when they put two on the board was really big, too. Oregon’s a great softball team, so I think we’re just going to have to throw punches all game long throughout an entire weekend and not give away any at-bats.”

Arizona stranded seven runners on base, including the first and fourth innings which ended with the bases loaded for the Wildcats. While Lowe thought the offense could have produced more in those situations, she was pleased with the overall performance at the plate.

“We had more opportunities to score, and I thought we could have put more runs on the board, but at the same time, we executed in some really big moments too,” she said.

Aissa Silva (17-4) allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings. 

Brooke Mannon pitched two shut-out innings in her first start since taking the circle at Alabama on March 2. Mannon is dealing with a lingering arm injury and has been in and out of the rotation following the Alabama road trip.

Dakota Kennedy’s leadoff walk and singles from Carlie Scupin and Allie Skaggs loaded the bases for Arizona in the bottom of the first inning, but the Wildcats came up empty.

A pair of two-run home runs in the bottom of the third from Scupin and DiNardo put Arizona up 4-0.

“I think our goal this year has just been to throw the first punch and to score first. So, right there I’m just looking for a pitch that I can drive and see what I can do with it. (I ) think less these days,” Scupin said.

DiNardo took a similar approach at the plate to Scupin during her at-bat in the third inning.

“I think that’s what I’m trying to get better at is thinking less and trying to let momentum carry through,” she said. “Scoop (Scupin) had a big hit, and I was like, ‘OK, now I need to get a big hit, or I need to do something to help the team,’ so I think it’s just not trying to be the hero but just trying to get hits and if it works it works, and just go from there.”

Oregon scored two runs in the top of the fourth, aided by Delgado’s leadoff double, before Ariel Carlson hit a two-run home run to center to narrow Arizona’s lead to 4-2. 

Arizona added two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth off a two-out RBI single by Regan Shockey to shortstop that brought Biehl home and an RBI double from Allie Skaggs that brought Shockey in from second when she slid just under the tag at home. 

Arizona will look to win its sixth straight game and secure its second straight conference series when it plays Oregon Saturday at noon 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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