(Tucson, AZ) Troy Hutchison
During Arizona’s six game losing streak, the Wildcats have been out scored 47 to 14 with two shutouts to go along with that. Needless to say, Arizona has been struggling to get any kind of offensive consistency through that six-game stretch. The Wildcats have struggled in other areas of the game during this rough patch, as well, with pitching having difficulties and the defense accumulating seven errors.
Game one of the doubleheader featured Taylor McQuillin in the circle. McQuillin was looking to get the Wildcats back on track versus a New Mexico State team with a 23-16 record.
McQuillin was sharp from the very beginning, striking out two New Mexico State Aggies in the top of the 1st inning. With the early momentum Arizona’s offense went out looking to give their pitcher some run support.
The Wildcats faced Samaria Diaz, who had given up ten homeruns on the season and garnered an ERA of 3.80 in 14 starts. Diaz would have to face the sixth-best homerun-hitting team in the NCAA with an average of 1.28 homeruns a game.
Reyna Carranco got things going for the Wildcats with a one out single to give Arizona an early baserunner. Alyssa Palomino followed and quickly fell to 0-2 in the count. After battling back to 3-2, Palomino crushed the ball over the wall in deep center field, giving the Wildcats an early 2-0 lead with only one out.
Given a two-run lead, McQuillin went out with confidence attacking the zone early in counts. She went through the top of the second with ease, striking out the side. After two innings of work, McQuillin had struck out five of the first seven batters. The lone baserunner allowed came on a first inning walk.
In the bottom of the second, Arizona continued to work at-bats and get themselves into good hitting counts. Still, Diaz was able to get through the first two batters Jesse Harper and Malia Martinez without giving up a baserunner.
Then, Dejah Mulipola came to the plate. With two out and no one on, Mulipola followed suit by working the count and staying patient in the batter’s box. On the 3-2 pitch, Mulipola launched the ball behind the left field bleachers to give Arizona a 3-0 lead heading into the third.
Both pitching staffs kept the bats quiet for the next few innings. In the top of the fifth, NMSU was finally able to get their first hit of the day off McQuillin.
NMSU also showed a little life with a stolen base by pinch runner Destiny Blueford . Ultimately, the Aggies rally would fall short yet again as McQuillin got out of the inning without giving up a run.
Arizona wasted no time in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff double from outfielder Ashleigh Hughes. After a couple of outs, Jessie Harper stepped up to the plate without a hit on the day. Harper not only got a hit, but launched a two-run homerun to push the Wildcats’ lead to 5-0 and spark some two-out magic.
Martinez followed Harper’s home run with a single to give Mulipola a chance to do damage with a runner on base. Not only did she do some damage,
but she launched her second home run of the evening, extending the Wildcats’ lead to 7-0. The home run pushed Mulipola’s RBI total for the game to four.
Mulipola’s home run forced the Aggies to make a second pitching change. Freshman Mikayla Bongi was brought in to put an end to the rally. She was finally able to end the inning for the Aggies, but the staff had already allowed four runs.
McQuillin started to lose some control in the fifth inning, giving up a lead-off walk. The Aggies took full advantage of that and an error from Arizona, which set them up with two on and nobody out. New Mexico State’s Nikki Butler finally put the Aggies on the board, hitting a double to score the lead-off walk.
McQuillin’s issues with control led to three NMSU runs in the inning, only one of which was an earned run. Still, Arizona was able to get out of the inning with a 7-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
McQuillin would go the distance, giving up three runs (one earned) on 129 pitches. As usual, she put racked up the strikeouts, racking up a total of 11. However, she had six walks to go along with the massive strikeout numbers. With the win Arizona took the first game of the doubleheader and snapped their six-game losing streak.
To read about the second game, click here.