Arizona Wildcats

“Hillenbrand Bombers” finish off Auburn in a 12-3 Victory

(Tucson, AZ)  Sunday’s showdown featured the Wildcats versus the Tigers in another go around.

Auburn had to play an elimination game against Colorado State after losing to the Cats yesterday. The Tigers took care of business and won a run rule five inning game 8-0.

Today was a cool and breezy afternoon and had the feel of a championship match-up that turned out to be a roller coaster of a ball game.

The Wildcats started Alyssa Denham in the circle with the hope of keeping the Tigers powerful offense off balanced with a different look. Taylor McQuillin pitched the fist game against the Tigers.

Auburn went with pitcher Lexie Handley, who faced the Cats in Saturday’s game and went seven strong innings holding Zona to two runs in a losing effort.

The Tucson regional game started off as a pitcher’s duel between both pitchers who tried to keep both offenses in search of answers.

Everything worked for Denham early on, she was able to mix her pitches and kept the Tigers off balance.. She gave up only one hit in the first two innings. During that stretch she got ahead in the count that forced Auburn to work from behind.

Handley started strong as she did Saturday night against the Cats. She matched Denham pitch for pitch and put pressure  back on Arizona offense.

Through first two inning Handley gave up just two hits and induced the Cats into an inning ending double play.

The scoreless tie didn’t last long as Arizona put up a crooked frame in the third inning when Peanut Martinez beat out a throw from the shortstop for an infield single. Later in the inning Martinez was sacrificed to second on a Carli Campbell bunt, that put her in scoring position with the top of the line-up coming up.

Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza wasted no time and scored Martinez on a single to right center field. Arizona got on the board first 1-0.

Soon after, Arizona’s Jessie Harper blasted a pinch into the left-field bleachers, this brought the crowd to its feet. Like a flash of lighting the Cats were up 3-0.

This was a stark difference from what we’ve seen in this Regional with Arizona edging their opponents in tight low scoring games. The Cat’s  offense before today was anemic.

The three-run inning with one out forced Tiger’s coach Mickey Dean to go with Saturday night’s pitcher Chardonnay Harris. She was able to put out the fire and retired two Arizona hitters on just six pitches.

Denham started the next inning with her fourth strikeout. Then the Tiger’s offense came alive with a little help on an error by Martinez in right field. With a runner on, Tiger’s second baseman Casey McCrackin smacked the ball down the right-field line for a stand-up triple with an RBI that cut the Cat’s lead to 3-1.

Auburn’s second run from came on a fielders choice and put the Tigers one run shy of tying the game. The momentum flipped and silenced the Arizona crowd when Kendall Veach homered and erased the Cat’s lead. Each team scored three runs in the inning.

This season Arizona has been able to respond well after giving up a lead.

The next inning the Wildcats answered scoring six runs on five hits to go along with two Tiger errors. The highlight came from Palomino-Cardoza after three runs had already scored to put Arizona up6-3. With two runners aboard, Palomino-Cardoza smashed a 2-2 pitch over the center field wall that hit the Gittings Dance Studio.

After a rough third inning, Denham regained her groove and pitched the final four innings without giving up a run on her way to a complete game.

Denham had ten strikeouts with one walk and gave up three runs on four hits. Denham came within one strikeout from tying her season high of eleven against South Florida.

With the game well in hand, Arizona didn’t let off the gas and scored a run in the sixth and seventh innings that gave them a 12-3 victory.

Harper who went 5-5 at the plate and scored five runs, had five RBI and belted three home runs in the game. That hadn’t been done since Hallie Wilson did so in 2015. Her five RBI put her at sixty nine for the year.

With the win the Wildcats now advance to the Super Regionals and get to stay home to face the Ole Miss Rebels. This is of particular interest since pitching coach Taryne Mowitt was at Ole Miss in the same coaching position three years ago.

The start time for the games will be announced later in the week.

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