Cats Walk Off in Eight, Sweep Wildcat Invitational
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Third-ranked Arizona Softball scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to walk off with its 10th straight win to start the 2021 season. Carlie Scupin tied the game with an RBI single to left and Hanah Bowen's single through the right side brought home the winning run to down Oregon State, 3-2, in eight innings.
Following seven straight run-rule wins, Sunday marked the first close game of the season for the Wildcats, who struggled offensively for much of the game vs. a pair of Oregon State pitchers. Fortunately for Arizona, Alyssa Denham was dominant in the circle once again, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits. She struck out seven batters in the complete game. The earned run she allowed, a sixth-inning wind-aided solo homer, was the first in nearly a full year (March 7 vs. Boise State); Denham went 33.1 consecutive innings between earned runs. The senior improved to 4-0 on the season.
On a day where the top of the order struggled against OSU pitching, the bottom of the order carried the Cats to victory. Sharlize Palacios had a go-ahead single in the fourth and then UA's 7-8-9 hitters all singled in the bottom of the eighth, including a game-tying hit from Scupin and the walkoff from Bowen.
Denham dueled with two Oregon State pitchers, Trystan Melancon (4.0, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 3 K) and Nerissa Eason (3.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 K), who kept the UA bats in check for the majority of the game. In the fourth, Arizona finally broke through. Jessie Harper opened the frame with a double and then came in to score on an RBI single from Palacios.
The 1-0 lead held until the top of the sixth, when, after Denham had retired 19 of the previous 21 batters, not allowing a hit since the first batter of the game, Mariah Mazon hit a pop up to left field. The 20 MPH winds in Tucson on Sunday carried the ball just out of the reach of left fielder Janelle Meoño's glove over the fence to tie the game.
Arizona had opportunities in both the sixth and seventh, but could not score.
In extras, the international tie-breaker was in effect, putting a runner at second base to begin the frame. Oregon State scored its free run on a one-out double, but Denham retired the final two batters to limit the damage.
In the bottom of the eighth, Carlie Scupin sent a one-out single to left field. Pinch-runner Giulia Koutsoyanopulos raced home from second and was granted the base when obstruction was called on the Oregon State catcher, tying the game. Hannah Martinez followed with a single to put the potential winning run in scoring position for Bowen, who singled through the right side to win the game.
Arizona improved to 10-0 on the season with the win and completed the sweep of the Wildcat Invitational. It was UA's 21st consecutive win, dating back to last season, the longest active streak in the nation. Arizona is off to Florida for a two-weekend trip where it will play seven total games vs. South Florida, UCF, Florida A&M and Florida State over a eight-day span.