Arizona softball suffers bleak weekend of losses against Oregon
After a promising start to the series at No. 7 Oregon, Arizona softball suffered arguably one of the worst weekends in the program’s history.
After the No. 22 Wildcats (27-17, 4-8 Pac-12) nearly beat conference-leading Oregon (36-6, 13-2) on Friday, they were no-hit Saturday and the victims of a perfect game Sunday. In the final two games of the series, the Ducks scored 17 runs and the UA had just three base runners as Oregon run-ruled the UA twice.
On Sunday, Oregon senior ace Jessica Moore (19-3) threw a perfect game as the Ducks beat Arizona 9-0 in five innings.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Jess pitch,” Oregon head coach Mike White said in a press release. “She was in control of every one of her pitches against a very good hitting team, and she deserved it. At the plate, we’re seeing the ball well and our short game set our hitters up well, too.”
Tyler Baker/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Sophomore Mandie Perez fields a ball in the outfield during a game against Washington this season. The Wildcats struggled at the plate this weekend, totaling three runs in three games against Oregon.
Moore struck out six two days after Arizona scored three against her and had nine hits.
“I knew I had a chance going into the last inning so I tried to bear down and do my best,” Moore said in a press release. “Coach White and I rewatched my game Friday night afterward and that really helped prepare us today, as well as watching Cheridan [Hawkins] yesteday and seeing what pitches [Arizona] struggled on.”
Junior Estela Piñon (9-6) started and allowed four runs, three earned in two innings. Junior Shelby Babcock (14-6) relieved her and allowed five runs on four hits in 1.1 innings.
Freshman Nancy Bowling (4-5) relieved Babcock and got the final two outs.
The Wildcats have lost three times this year by the mercy rule, losing 9-1 to then No. 15 Michigan March 15 in the Judi Garman Classic. Today’s sweep was the first time Arizona was swept since last March at ASU.
On Saturday, Oregon freshman pitcher Cheridan Hawkins (14-3) threw a no-hitter, as the Ducks beat Arizona 8-0 in five innings. Hawkins struck out 11, including seven of the first eight Wildcats she faced.
Bowling allowed four runs on five hits, walked three and struck out three. Babcock replaced her and allowed four runs, three earned, gave up four hits, a walk and struck out one in an inning.
Arizona went 1-4 on its most recent road trip, losing to New Mexico State 3-2 before beating the Aggies 8-1 on Tuesday. The Wildcats have played 16 games in 23 days.
On Friday, Oregon came from behind to win 5-3 thanks to a pair of two home runs in the bottom of the sixth frame.
Babcock pitched well through five, holding the Ducks to three hits and leading 3-1. After she gave up the first home run, Bowling relieved her and gave up another round tripper.
The Rodriguez sisters had all of the UA’s RBI this weekend. Freshman utility Courtney Rodriguez ended a nine-pitch at bat with a single to drive in one and junior catcher/designated player Kelsey Rodriguez hit an RBI double.
Sophomore first baseman and left fielder Mandie Perez also had doubles, as Arizona out-hit the Ducks 9-7. Sophomore second baseman Chelsea Suitos scored on a throwing error.
The Wildcats knocked Moore, a three-time Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week out of the game, but Hawkins earned her fifth save by shutting down the UA despite Arizona getting two runners in scoring position to start the seventh with no outs.
Despite returning home this weekend, it won’t get much easier for the Wildcats, as they will face No. 21 UCLA over the weekend.