Top-ranked Washington softball won a thrilling conference home opener on Friday night, defeating #9 Arizona 2-1 in 8 innings.
With the win, Washington improves to 30-2 and 2-2 in Pac-12 play, while Arizona falls to 24-4 and 3-1.
Taran Alvelo (14-1) and Taylor McQuillin (16-2) each went the distance for their respective clubs. They matched each other through 5 scoreless innings, with Alvelo looking the more dominant of the two (no hits through 5 1/3). But Wildcat first baseman Alyssa Palomino pounced on a mistake out over the plate and broke the scoreless tie with a homer onto the access road beyond the left field wall.
Down 1-0 with just 3 outs to work with, Taryn Atlee was hit by an 0-2 pitch leading off the bottom of the seventh. A failed sac bunt by Trysten Melhart and a fielder's choice groundout from Kelly Burdick brought UW within one out of their third loss in four games.
Taylor Van Zee fought off some tough pitches and drew a walk from Arizona ace Taylor McQuillin, pushing Burdick to second. On the first pitch she saw, Sis Bates came up huge to help send the game to extras.
B7 | TIE GAME! Bates comes up big with a single to left and Burdick scores! pic.twitter.com/pN3QEbtHDg— Washington Softball (@UWSoftball) March 24, 2018
Alvelo allowed just the second hit of the game for the Wildcats in T8 in the form of a 1-out bunt single. After the runner stole second and a strikeout, she plunked UA's Reyna Carranco (more on that below). But after a brief injury delay, she came back firing to strike out star shortstop Jessie Harper on 3 straight pitches.
On the second pitch of she saw in the bottom of the eighth, Julia DePonte finished the comeback by blasting a walk-off solo homer. Interestingly, it hit a light fixture and actually bounced back into the park, as you can see on the replay.
WALKOFF HOME RUN DEPONTE! pic.twitter.com/EXqXl4NTEE— Washington Softball (@UWSoftball) March 24, 2018
In the top of eighth with a runner at second and 2 outs, Alvelo lost control of a fastball and hit Arizona second baseman Carranco in the helmet. She went down immediately, but never lost consciousness and exited the field under mostly her own power. The official Arizona softball account tweeted the following:
Reyna is back with the team and in good spirits. She suffered a concussion and a facial injury and will be re-examined by team doctors when we return to Tucson. We thank everyone for their thoughts and well wishes. https://t.co/5CPxNdOBAt— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) March 24, 2018
Carranco will be out for the final two games of the series. She was replaced for the final few plays by Ivy Davis, both as a pinch-runner and then defensively in the infield in B8.
Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 3:30 PM PDT as UW looks to clinch the series. Elise Woodward and Danielle Lawrie are on the call for Pac-12 Network (WA only). If you have access to a different P12Net feed, you should be able to log on through your TV provider at pac-12.com/live. Live stats are at http://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=192419