The Arizona softball team hosted the Hillenbrand Invitational from March 3 through March 5 at Mike Candrea Field at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. The teams that were invited included Weber State University, Texas A&M University-Commerce, California State University, Northridge and the University of Nebraska. Arizona came into the tournament 11-5 on the season.
Friday, March 3: Arizona vs. Weber State at 4 p.m.
Arizona started the Hillenbrand Invitational with a doubleheader on Friday, March 3. Arizona first took on Weber State. Devyn Netz started in the pitcher's circle for Arizona to take on Weber State's Madison Peterson.
Arizona started the scoring in the second inning, putting 3 runs on the board. They added to their lead in the bottom of the third when Netz scored from third base on a wild pitch that resulted in a passed ball. One play later, Jasmine Perezchica hit a single to drive Allie Skaggs in, putting Arizona up 6-0.
With Arizona’s defense staying strong, Weber State had no answer to Arizona's high scoring offense. In the bottom of the fifth, Dakota Kennedy hit a solo home run, extending the lead to 7-0.
Only needing 1 more run to end the game, Arizona's Carlie Scupin stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Scupin hit a walk-off home run straight to center field to seal the 8-0 victory.
With that home run, Arizona got the win by run-rule in six innings. Netz's personal record rose to 6-4 on the season.
Friday, March 3: Arizona vs. Texas A&M University-Commerce at 6 p.m.
After their Weber State victory, the Wildcats took on A&M-Commerce. Aissa Silva got the start at pitcher for the Wildcats for the first time this season. She faced A&M-Commerce's Anissa Arredondo.
The Wildcats showed no fatigue after their earlier game as they came out and scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first inning. The scoring started when Skaggs hit her second grand slam of the year to left field. After Skaggs' grand slam, Arizona added to their lead with almost every hit, putting up 7 more runs on nine more hits.
A&M-Commerce seemed helpless on defense as Arizona inflicted its will on them. Arizona’s defense stayed strong, only giving up one hit the whole game.
Skaggs ended the game the same way she started it: by hitting a 2-run homer to center field in the bottom of the third. The Wildcats won their second game in the tournament 14-0 after just five innings.
Saturday, March 4: Arizona vs. Nebraska at 3 p.m.
On the second day of the tournament, Arizona once again had a doubleheader, taking on Nebraska first. Netz started in the pitcher's circle for Arizona and she took on Nebraska's Courtney Wallace.
Nebraska struck first with a run in the top of the second. The Wildcats answered in the bottom of the inning by scoring 3 runs, establishing the early 3-1 lead.
Unfortunately, that was all Arizona could do as the scoring went dry for the rest of the game. Nebraska took over in the top of the third by scoring 5 more runs, and they added to their lead almost every inning after that.
The Wildcats suffered their first and only loss of the tournament. The final score was 10-3 in Nebraska's favor.
Saturday, March 4: Arizona vs. Texas A&M Commerce at 5 p.m.
Arizona did not stay sad for long, though. Their second game against A&M-Commerce began and ended much like the first time they faced them.
The Wildcats again put 11 runs up in the first inning against A&M-Commerce. Once again, Arizona took advantage of A&M-Commerce’s mistakes and continued their barrage, scoring 6 more runs in the bottom of the third.
Arizona's defense struggled more than the first time the two teams met, giving up 8 runs total and having two errors in the game that cost them points. With the 17 total runs, Arizona pitcher Ali Blanchard got the win, extending her personal record to 4-0 on the season and keeping her undefeated record alive.
Sunday, March 5: Arizona vs. California State University, Northridge at 2 p.m.
On the final day of the Hillenbrand Invitational, the Wildcats played California State University, Northridge. Netz got the start at pitcher for the Wildcats once again, and she took on Riley Wickum from CSUN.
Arizona got the early lead, scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the first inning. CSUN had no answer for the Wildcats on offense or defense as they could not get a run the whole game.
Arizona only added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth when Olivia DiNardo hit a double to left center field to score 2 runs, and then Netz hit a home run to center field scoring another 2 runs.
Arizona won 9-0 over CSUN with 10 hits and no errors. Netz extended her pitching record to 7-5 on the season.
Arizona ended the Hillenbrand Invitational with a record of 4-1. Their overall record is now 15-6 on the season and they're ranked at No. 20 in the AP Poll.
The Wildcats' next series will be on Friday, March 10, against Pac-12 rival ASU in Tempe, Arizona. This will be the Wildcats' first Pac-12 series of the season.
Arizona will be back in Tucson on Wednesday, March 15, when they play New Mexico State University.
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