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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona softball sweeps Hillenbrand Invitational

Wildcats win one of the longest games in program history after 14 innings
Jay Corella
Carlie Scupin hits the ball during the Hillenbrand invitational at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium on Feb 23. Arizona held a lead, entering the top of the fifth inning with a score of 5-3.

No. 22 Arizona softball team swept the Hillenbrand Invitational extending their record to 16-1 at Mike Candrea Field at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium between Feb. 22-25

The Wildcats played six games against Drake University (6-3), University of Indiana (6-3) (10-9), Marshall University (12-4) (10-2) and Central Michigan University (5-4).

Along with the six games, Arizona also played one of its longest games in program history. It would come when facing Indiana for a second time when the game was sent to extra innings and would not be decided until the 14th inning

Day 1: Thursday, Feb. 22

Game 1: Arizona vs. Drake at 6 p.m

In game one on Thursday, Feb. 22, the Wildcats took on Drake. Arizona sent Brook Mannon out as the starting pitcher. The game quickly became a pitching battle that lasted for five innings. In the bottom of the fifth however, the Wildcats would break the 0-0 stalemate putting 5 runs on the board after back-to-back home runs by Carlie Scupin and Olivia DiNardo. Mannon stayed out for the Wildcats till the seventh inning where she gave up 2 runs and was replaced by Aissa Silva who closed out the last inning. 

Day 2: Friday, Feb. 23

Game 2: Arizona vs. Indiana at 4:50 p.m

Friday brought day two of the Hillenbrand Invitational and the Wildcats’ first double header of the tournament. The Wildcats took on Indiana first, sending out Miranda Stoddard as the starting pitcher. Indiana took the early lead in the top of the first inning but after another Scupin homer to centerfield, the ‘Cats got the lead back 2-1. After an Indiana 2-run homer in the top of the fourth inning, Stoddard would be replaced with Silva as pitcher. Arizona would answer again in the bottom of the inning scoring 3 runs of their own, reclaiming the lead. The Wildcats would score once more in the bottom of the sixth inning to help them win 6-3. 

Game 3: Arizona vs. Marshall at 7:15 p.m

In its second game of the day and third game of the tournament, Arizona took on Marshall. The Wildcats sent Miranda Stoddard out as their starting pitcher. Marshall took the early lead, scoring a run in the top of the first inning, but Arizona’s Tayler Biehl answered with her first career home run to take the lead 2-1. After some back-and-forth scoring, the game would become tied 3-3, but in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Wildcats’ offense would put up 7 runs and in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Wildcats scored 2 more runs mercy ruling Marshall to win 12-4

Day 3: Saturday, Feb. 24

On day three of the Hillenbrand Invitational, Arizona played the same two teams from the day before, Indiana and Marshall. 

Game 4: Arizona vs. Indiana at 4:35 p.m

In game one of the day, Arizona faced Indiana again and sent out Silva as their starting pitcher. Indiana would take the early lead in the top of the second inning but the Wildcats answered in the bottom of the inning, tying the game at 1-1. Arizona would take its first lead of the day in the bottom of the third, scoring 2 runs. Indiana soon tied the game at 3-3 following a solo home run in the fifth inning. Arizona and Indiana would both score in the seventh inning, keeping the game tied and sending the Wildcats to their first extra innings battle of the season.

In extra innings, teams start with a player on second base and in this game, it was all about advancing the runner. Both teams scored runs in the eighth, tenth, eleventh and fourteenth innings. In the top of the 14 inning, the Wildcats gave up 2 runs to Indiana after a line drive hit made it back to the center field wall.  The Wildcats, having played basically two games, entered the bottom of the 14th inning down 2 runs their largest deficit of the day. 

After Mannon was hit by a pitch and Blaise Biringer was intentionally walked, Emily Schepp singled, advancing all the runners and scoring one for the Wildcats. Taylor Beihl then hit a sac-fly, scoring Mannon, who tagged and took off for home, scoring the second run to tie the game at 9-9. With runners on second and third, Jasmine Perezchica hit a ground ball to third base, beating the throw and allowing the winning run to cross the plate. Arizona ended the game on top 10-9 over Indiana. Silva was taken out of the game in the fourth inning but put back in in the seventh she finished the game for the Wildcats, pitching 10.1 innings and getting her seventh win of the season. 

Head coach Caitlin Lowe said she was so proud of the team and happy to see them stay in the game all the way through. “It took guts […] I was so proud of the team and [Aissa], especially for each inning being like, ‘yep, I got this,’” said Lowe.

Game 5: Arizona vs. Marshall at 8:40 p.m

The second game on Saturday, was decided in five innings, with the Wildcats mercy ruling Marshall again. Arizona sent Stoddard out for the start. She was relieved in the third inning by Ali Blanchard, who closed out the game for the Wildcats. After a slow start for the ‘Cats, giving up 2 runs in the top of the first, the Wildcats got on the board with 2 runs in the bottom of the second inning. It would be the bottom of the fifth inning where Arizona put Marshall away, scoring 6 runs, including back-to-back home runs again by Scupin and DiNardo. Arizona claimed their late-night victory 10-2 over Marshall. 

Day 4: Sunday, Feb. 25

Game 6: Arizona vs. Central Michigan at 11:30 p.m

On the last day of the Hillenbrand Invitational, the Wildcats took on Central Michigan. Arizona sent out Brook Mannon for the start. However, she was replaced by Blanchard in the third, who also would be replaced by Stoddard in the third inning. Central Michigan got out to the early lead, scoring 1 run in the first inning and another 2 runs in the third. Arizona battled back, scoring a run in the bottom of the third, fifth and sixth innings. With no one scoring in the seventh, the Wildcats went to extra innings for the second time this weekend. Silva was brought in to pitch again, only giving up 1 run in the top of the eighth. Arizona would respond and get the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, winning 5-4. 

Looking ahead:

After the tournament sweep, the Wildcats move up three spots in polls and are now ranked No. 21 in the country. 

Arizona now goes on the road to the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Games to watch next week in the Crimson Classic are both matchups against No. 11 ranked Alabama on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

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