Tucson Regional: Harper's solo home run leads Arizona softball over Saint Francis
Arizona softball opened up NCAA Regional play with a 1-0 win over Saint Francis at Hillenbrand Stadium on Friday night. The Wildcats will now move on to face North Dakota State on Saturday.
Jessie Harper’s solo home run in the fourth inning was all Arizona needed to come away with a win as Taylor McQuillin threw a complete-game shutout to stymie Saint Francis. A matchup between two high-powered offenses produced a total of just six hits, with only two of them coming from UA hitters.
“At this stage of the game in postseason, you’ll take 'em anyway that you can,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “Hopefully we saved up a lot of hits for tomorrow.”
The Hillenbrand crowd had gone quiet early in the game until Harper smacked her home run to left field that exited the ballpark in a hurry. Harper’s smash was her 18th of the season and came on an off-speed pitch thrown by Abby Trahan.
“That pitch was just one of those pitches she knows changeup is coming,” Trahan said.
Harper added that even though the team wasn’t able to produce anymore runs after her solo shot, she felt that it changed the momentum of the game and everyone seemed to have better at-bats.
Dejah Mulipola almost added to Arizona’s lead on the very next at-bat, but her towering fly ball was caught at the top of the wall in left field by Saint Francis’ Sierra McKee.
McQuillin’s shutout was her 14th of the year. However, she put herself in a bit of trouble in the top of the fifth when she walked two batters with two outs. But the veteran pitcher buckled down and struckout Madison Cabell to strand the pair of baserunners.
McQuillin ended the night with a final stat line of eight strikeouts and four hits allowed over seven innings of work.
Arizona’s victory moves it into the winner’s part of the Tucson Regional and the ‘Cats will play North Dakota State on Saturday at 2 p.m. The winner will move onto the regional final that takes place on Sunday.
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