Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza caught a cold during Arizona’s series against Florida State last week. It became laryngitis and costochondritis, causing swelling in the ribs and making it painful every time she coughed.
Palomino-Cardoza lost her voice by the end of Friday night’s Pac-12 opener against Oregon, but she didn’t lose her swing.
The redshirt junior hit two of the 12th-ranked Wildcats’ four homers — including one that landed on top of Gittings Gym, the building located well beyond the right field wall — en route to an 8-0 run-rule win in six innings at Hillenbrand Stadium.
“She hit one like that in high school and it went really, really far. But that one, right off the bat, everyone was like, ‘Oh my God,’” ace Taylor McQuillin said of Palomino-Cardoza’s sixth-inning home run. “That’s what she does — that’s Alyssa for you. If you ask if she can hit it farther, the answer is yes.
“She’s going to go out there, take her cuts and take a good pitch to clear the fence or building or anything.”
Palomino-Cardoza wasn’t the only Wildcat to do damage. All but two from the lineup managed at least a hit, totaling 13 against Oregon, which only managed two hits.
Reyna Carranco and Palomino-Cardoza each extended their season-long hitting streak to eight games.
Coach Mike Candrea felt like the offense may have left a few runs behind, but ultimately couldn’t complain about their performance. Candrea said he was glad to see production out of the bottom of the lineup from Rylee Pierce, Hannah “Peanut” Martinez and Jenna Kean, who combined hit 5 for 7 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
“Rylee Pierce today, she finally busted open and had three hits,” Candrea said. “Jenna did a nice job. Peanut did a nice job. I wish Peanut was a little bit faster, because she’d have a lot more hits, but handles the bat well and situationally does some good things for us.”
The Wildcats first got on the board with a lead-off home run in the second inning by Dejah Mulipola — her 10th of the season — and made it 2-0 when Martinez hit a sac fly to bring in Tamara Statman.
Arizona followed up with another lead-off home run in the third — Palomino-Cardoza’s first of the game — and a homer by Pierce in the fourth to make it 4-0.
In the sixth, after Palomino-Cardoza’s three-run moon shot, Malia Martinez hit a walk-off single to score Jessie Harper and end the game.
Defensively, McQuillin retired 16 straight batters between the two allowed hits in the first and sixth innings. The senior struck out eight and didn’t allow a walk.
McQuillin said she didn’t do a good job of locating pitches in last week’s series opener against the then-top-ranked Seminoles, so she wanted to attack early Friday.
“It’s not just me out there,” McQuillin said. “We have nine people on the field and I’m one of those positions. So if the ball comes to me, I’m expected to field it.
“But I think just trusting my team, knowing that if the ball’s hit, they can make the plays. They may not always look great, but they’re going to get the job done. And sometimes getting the job done is what’s important.”