The Arizona softball team took on New Mexico State University on Wednesday, March 15, in a doubleheader that started at 4 p.m. Arizona came into the two games 17-7 on the season while their opponent entered the game with an 11-7 record.
Game 1: No. 17 Arizona (17-7) vs. NMSU (11-7) at 4 p.m.
The Wildcats started Sydney Somerndike as pitcher. This was her fifth start of the season and she faced New Mexico State’s starting pitcher Jordin King, who had only started in one other game for NMSU.
Arizona took the early lead in the bottom of the first after Allie Skaggs hit a 3-run home run down the first base line staying in play by only a few feet. This home run marked Skaggs' sixth homer of the season and the 35th home run of her career. Arizona’s defense stayed strong through the whole game, continuously holding NMSU to no runs.
In the bottom of the second inning, Paige Dimler got her second home run of the season and drove in 2 more runs for the Wildcats. Since this was the second home run of the game, NMSU decided to change pitchers and put Laurali Patane on the mound.
The pitching change had no effect on the Wildcats or Dimler.
She came back up to bat in the bottom of the fourth and she again hit a home run, this time to left field. With this run, the Wildcats went up 6-0 and NMSU changed their pitcher once again. They turned to Felicia De La Torre.
Arizona replaced their own pitcher in the top of the fifth inning, switching from Somerndike to Ali Blanchard. Blanchard went 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth without giving up a run and getting one strikeout.
With the bottom of the fifth coming, the Wildcats needed 2 runs to end the game and get out of the rain that had started to come down. The Wildcats got the first of two runs after Dakota Kennedy got an RBI single, scoring Blanchard who was pinch-running for Olivia DiNardo.
Trying to hold the Wildcats to the 1 run, NMSU made their third pitching change of the game and put in Ana Rodriguez as their fourth pitcher of the game. NMSU made the pitching change because Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe sent Devyn Netz to pinch hit for Sophia Carroll.
Netz battled Rodriguez to a two-ball, one-strike count. Finally after fouling off a pitch, Netz crushed a ball to left field for a 3-run walkoff home run. Netz hit the softball so far it sailed over the bleachers in left field and hit the roof on the far side of the building behind them.
“Devyn [Netz] is never cold," Lowe said after the game. "She's always chomping at the bit to get into the game and matchup-wise it looked good and I like her with runners on base.”
“I had two strikes so I had to protect the zone so just coming up, [and] taking a swing," Netz added. "I’m a pinch hitter so it does really matter; I just had to swing.”
With Netz' homer the Wildcats broke the run-rule threshold and won 10-0. Somerndike got her fourth win of the season and improved to 4-1.
Game 2: No. 17 Arizona (18-7) vs. NMSU (11-8) at 6:15 p.m.
With rain still coming down, there were questions about if the second scheduled game would take place. The rain was initially not a major hindrance to the players or the field, so the second game was played as scheduled after a short intermission for the grounds crew to clean up the field.
Blanchard started where she left off in the first game as pitcher and again pitched a quick inning even though the rain was coming down. With the bottom of the first came a new NMSU pitcher, Aydenne Brown, who came into the game with a record of 6-2.
Arizona again took an early lead in the bottom of the first, scoring on Skaggs' double up the middle.
Shortly after that, though, the umpires got together with the coaches and called for a rain delay. The in-field was covered with a protective tarp since the rain was no longer just a drizzle. The rain delay lasted about 30 minutes until the storm had passed and the conditions were considered safe to play.
When gameplay continued, the Wildcats finished the bottom of the first inning with no more hits or runs.
The Arizona defense only gave up 1 run in the top of the second on a throwing error from Blanchard. Blanchard closed out the top of the second without any more setbacks.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Wildcat bats got hot. They scored 5 runs from a bunt by Jasmine Perezchica and hits from Skaggs and DiNardo. Arizona went cold until the fifth inning where they found themselves in a familiar position being up 6-1 and needing a couple runs to end the game early.
After Kennedy bunted to first base and then Dimler was walked to first the Wildcats' Izzy Pacho stepped into the batter's box. Like her teammate Netz in the first game, she fouled off a couple pitches before hitting a walk off home run to left center field, ending the game 9-1.
Blanchard got the win only giving up two hits and 1 run, extending her personal record to 5-0 on the season.
After the uncommon rain delay shortly into the second game, Lowe said she was very impressed the weather did not bother the team at all and they knew when it was game time, it was time to go.
According to Netz, a veteran on the team, it was one of the first weather delays she’s seen since her freshman year when they played up in Washington.
“I think it's different, like a different scene. I’m glad with the way we bounced back, we kind of fell asleep a little bit, but I'm glad we came back and Izzy [Pacho] came back and hit the home run,” Netz said.
Arizona swept New Mexico State, extending their season record to 19-7. The Wildcats play the University of Utah next for a three-game series starting on Friday, March 17, and running through Sunday, March 19.
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