Arizona Softball

No. 21 Arizona drops second game to No. 22 Oregon

Tayler Biehl makes a diving catch as teammates Dakota Kennedy and Blaise Biringer look on (Arizona Athletics photo)

Phenomenal pitching and fielding by Aissa Silva and the No. 21 Arizona softball team, as well as a huge two-run second inning, was not enough to mount a comeback against the No. 22 Oregon softball team.

The Wildcats lost game two of a three-game series 5-2 at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

The game between Arizona (27-13-1, 8-9 Pac 12) and Oregon (24-14, 10-6) was going to be cancelled due to a terrifying injury Friday night to Oregon center fielder Hanna Delgado that saw her carried away on a stretcher and into an ambulance. Delgado remained at UMC on Saturday for evaluations from her head/neck injury a result from her diving for a catch into the outfield wall.

After talks within the team, the Ducks decided at 9 a.m. that they would play. Because of that, the game was delayed to 3 p.m., three hours later than the originally planned start time.

Arizona will look to take the series with a win at Hillenbrand on Sunday. First pitch for that game is at noon.

“We were definitely having prayers for them and went out there thinking about her (Delgado) and hoping that she’s okay,” Silva said. “But I think we were locked in still and did what we needed to do.”

Saturday’s game was a different scene compared to Friday’s 7-5 win.

“They came out with a good plan from the beginning of the game, I think,” Arizona head coach Catilin Lowe said about Oregon’s adjustments. “Neither team had seen those pitchers before. So I think it was a matter of who was gonna execute early. They were able to score their runs early and get the timely hit when they needed it.”

Oregon found itself in early scoring position with runners on first and second base with no outs before Emma Kauf flew to right field, driving in Kai Luschar and Ariel Carlson from third and first base, respectively.

Vallery Wong then hit a sacrifice fly to bring Kauf home, increaseing Oregon’s lead to 3-0 before the end of the first inning.

Dakota Kennedy and Regan Shockey got into scoring position in the bottom of the first inning, but they were left stranded after Carlie Scupin and Allie Skaggs struck out and Blaise Biringer grounded out.

The Ducks dug more into the lead with a triple into left field by Kai Luschar, driving Tehya Bird in from second base. Ali Blanchard was brought into the circle after the play in place of starter Miranda Stoddard.

Carlson scored the final run of the inning for the Ducks, singling to center field to drive Luschar, making it 4-0.

Blanchard allowed one hit, a run and a walk before striking out the final batter to escape the top of the second inning.

Arizona began its attempts to chip away at the deficit after that inning.

Emily Schepp hit an RBI triple down the right field line, all the way to the wall Driving Olivia DiNardo in from first base putting Arizona on the board, 5-1.

Jasmine Perezchica next hit an RBI of her own, a single down the left field line to drive to drive Schepp in, making it 5-2 before the final out of the inning.

Oregon threatened to score with two hits to start top of the third inning.

Silva came in to replace Blanchard and got the last two batters out for the first scoreless inning on the day by Oregon.

Arizona managed to get two runners on base, but failed to bring them home, stranding them with a 5-2 deficit going to the fourth.

Arizona had its best chance to score at least one run in the bottom of the fifth, with a bases loaded situation with one out.

Schepp reached on a fielder’s choice, but Skaggs was tagged out at home plate. Kaiah Altmeyer, who came in to pinch run for Biehl, flew out to end the inning with three runners stranded.

Silva and the fielding of Arizona continued to impress for the remainder of the game by not allowing any runners to score.

Oregon did just the same to cruise to the game two victory.

Pitching and fielding by the Arizona defense was elite after the first two innings, but offense just couldn’t gain any momentum, as the Wildcats left 11 runners stranded on base by the end of the game.

Lowe credits the adjustments that Oregon made from Friday’s game one, as well as the two pitchers that Wildcat batters hadn’t yet seen.

“We had a lot of the hits, we just didn’t have the timely hits,” Lowe said. “You know, I think we also weren’t dangerous in those situations, making them make tough plays. I thought we were too easy of an out in some of those situations. They know, and they’re just as frustrated and they’re hungry for those opportunities tomorrow.”

Silva, who pitched Friday in Arizona’s 7-5 victory over Oregon, stepped into the circle in the third inning, and was a catalyst to the defense picking back up.

With some help from exceptional fielding play, Silva pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowed five hits, no runs scored and two strikeouts.

“When she responds like that were in really good shape she can keep us in any game. We just have to execute with the runners on those bases,” Lowe said of Silva’s performance Saturday.

DiNardo went 3 for 4 with one run. Schepp went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run. Perezchica went 1 for 2 with one RBI.

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