Taylor McQuillin lived on the (outside) edge against UCLA, and almost got away with it

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Jacquie Harbour/Arizona Athletics | The Daily Wildcat Arizona's Taylor McQuillin (18) pitches the ball during the game against the South Dakota State Coyotes on March 8, 2018 at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, Tucson, AZ.

Arizona softball pitcher Taylor McQuillin toed the rubber against UCLA Friday night and nearly threw a gem. Through the first five innings, McQuillin had given up just two runs on two hits with six strikeouts. She did so by pitching high and outside to the Bruins, throwing plenty of off speed pitches, and keeping the Bruins off balance.

McQuillin generally works off of the outside part of the plate but did so especially well tonight. 

“That’s a lot of her game plan. But, you know, she was getting the call early,” UA head coach Mike Candrea said.

McQuillin also had her off-speed pitches working well, which she dangled off the outer half of the plate. 

“I think that my off-speed was very effective today, more than it has been lately, and actually this entire season, so we used it a lot more and we tried to use it to our advantage. That was the pitch that paid off a little bit for us,” McQuillin said.

McQuillin’s results were very consistent with what one might expect from a pitcher with her approach to hitters. McQuillin induced nine fly outs, most of which were pop ups or weak line drives hit the other way. The majority of those fly outs came from off-speed pitches that started high in the zone, or from elevated fast balls. 

Furthermore, McQuillin induced four ground outs. Those ground outs came on off-speed pitches low and away that the Bruin hitters simply needed to put the bat on the ball. Most of McQuillin’s ground outs were little dribblers to either Malia Martinez at third base or Reyna Carranco at second. This shows that UCLA hitters weren’t able to square McQuillin up when putting the ball on the ground. The Bruins weren’t able to get the barrel on the ball, and rather, hit their ground outs off the bottom of the bat.

McQuillin also recorded six strikeouts, all swinging. McQuillin, as coach Candrea alluded to, was getting the call off the outside corner. McQuillin struck five batters out over the first six innings. These strike outs were primarily on off speed pitches outside that the Bruin hitters needed to swing at due to the risk of being struck out looking. McQuillin also struck Kinsley Washington out to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Washington stepped in to face McQuillin with a tied score, and McQuillin used Washington’s adrenaline against her, and kept Washington off balance and uncomfortable throughout the at bat.

However, three of UCLA’s first four hits were home runs. While McQuillin did a good job of living off the black rubber edge of home plate, she made a few mistakes, and was punished for them. 

“Fly balls versus home runs, you know, it’s an inch to inch game when you’re looking at the plate, whether it’s up, out, in, down. You just can’t leave pitches over the plate or pitches that are too juicy. So I think that’s the difference between the fly balls and home runs today,” McQuillin said.

The game seemed to get out of hand for McQuillin in the later innings. Candrea hypothesized that the strike zone may have been shrinking on McQuillin as the game progressed. 

“It’s hard from the dugout to decide whether we’re getting squeezed (late in the game) or those are good pitches that McQuillin was getting the call for early in the game,” Candrea said.

Either way, McQuillin's mistakes proved to be costly as the 'Cats fell 7-6 to the Bruins in seven innings.

Arizona takes on UCLA Saturday night at 7:00 PM and on Sunday at 5:00 PM, as well. Both those games will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks and on the radio on 1400 AM KTUC.




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