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Freshman Bats Come Alive in 11-5 Victory

Apr 9, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona's freshmen combined for nine hits, including five home runs, as the Wildcats opened the Bear Down Fiesta with a 11-5 victory over New Mexico State on Friday night at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Four freshman combined for five of Arizona's six home runs in the win. Sharlize Palacios hit a pair of home runs and drove in four runs while Carlie Scupin, Allie Skaggs and Isabella Dayton all added solo shots -- Dayton's was of the inside-the-park variety, UA's first such homer on the season.

The only freshman in the lineup not to go deep for the Cats was leadoff hitter Janelle Meoño, who went a career-best 4-for-4, stole two bases and added an outfield assist for good measure.

Arizona's sixth and final homer of the game came off the bat of Jessie Harper, who moved into a tie for fifth place in NCAA history with her 85th career home run. Five of the seven players in NCAA history with at least 85 homers are Wildcats -- Katiyana Mauga (92), Stacie Chambers (87), Leah Braatz (85), Laura Espinoza (85), Harper (85).

In the circle, Alyssa Denham was cruising until New Mexico State ambushed the Wildcats with a five-run fourth-inning, scoring the five runs on just two hits. Hanah Bowen entered in relief and was dominant over three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Denham, who gave up the five runs on three hits and struck out a pair over 4.0 innings, earned the win to improve to 12-4 on the season. Bowen picked up her first save of the season.

The Wildcats jumped all over the Aggies, plating four runs in the bottom of the first, three of which came on a Palacios homer. Two innings later, the Cats took a 5-0 lead on another Palacios home run and appeared to be cruising.

In the blink of an eye, the lead was gone. NMSU put runner on the corners with nobody out to start the top of the fourth and used a fielder's choice to plate its first run. Following a walk to load the bases, a wild pitch brought in another. With two out, Gabby Aragon hit her first homer of the season, a three-run homer to tie the game.

The tie was short-lived, though, as Scupin led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run on the first pitch. Skaggs followed with a homer of her own to double the lead.

In the sixth, UA plated four runs, using Dayton's homer, a Dejah Mulipola RBI single, and a two-run Harper Homer to put the Cats up 11-5.

The Bear Down Fiesta continues on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona will play New Mexico State at 3 p.m. and the Mexican National Team at 6 p.m. A full schedule can be found HERE.