After a shaky start, Arizona was able to settle down and lock up its first Super Regional win since 2017.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats came back from a couple of early deficits to beat No. 11 Ole Miss 5-2 Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium in just the second meeting between both programs.
The Tucson Super Regional continues Saturday at 5 p.m. An Arizona win would earn the Wildcats their first trip to the Women’s College World Series since 2010. An Ole Miss victory would force a winner-take-all matchup on Sunday.
Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Malia Martinez each knocked in two RBIs for UA in the Game 1 win. Taylor McQuillin pitched a complete game and didn't allow a hit after the third inning. She struck out nine and walked four, but had to work around some early momentum from Ole Miss.
“There’s not really much you can do — it’s getting through the first couple of innings and being able to settle down a little bit,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. “We did the same thing at Regionals. It’s easy to talk about it, but it’s another thing when you actually get on the field and the time is there. But I think this team has done a really good job.”
The Ole Miss offense threatened Arizona right away. In the first frame, the Rebels hit a single, walked twice and stole four bases. An Arizona infield error allowed Ole Miss to score first, but with a bases-loaded jam with two outs, Taylor McQuillin induced a much-needed flyout to left field for the final out.
“We just let the game get quick on us,” McQuillin said. “They got the leadoff batter on and then they started running around and doing Ole Miss things. So, for us — I mean for me — it was I need to keep them off the bases so we can keep this rolling.”
The Wildcats switched gears to damage control.
In the bottom of the first, Malia Martinez hit a double down the left side to score Jessie Harper — who had reached base on a fielder’s choice — and advanced to third on the throw. Martinez was stranded on base when both Dejah Mulipola and Rylee Pierce struck out to end the inning.
It was a new ballgame, but Ole Miss kept forcing Arizona to catch up.
With two outs in the second, the Rebels singled and doubled to score and once again take the lead.
The bottom of Arizona's lineup responded. Hannah “Peanut” Martinez and Carli Campbell each singled. An error by Ole Miss’ first baseman allowed Martinez to advance to third base. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza singled to left field to bring in Martinez and tie the game at 2-2.
In the third, Ole Miss loaded the bases for the second time in the game on two outs. But this time, Arizona got out of the jam without damage. The Wildcats’ offense was held to one hit in the bottom of the third, resulting in the first scoreless inning of the game.
Arizona scored the go-ahead run in the fourth on a sac fly from Palomino-Cardoza for its first lead of the game. An RBI single from Malia Martinez extended the lead to 4-2.
Malia Martinez was a perfect 4 for 4 at the plate with two doubles and two RBIs. Before Friday’s game, she had hit five doubles all season.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything too crazy — just keeping it simple and taking the pressure off myself and knowing my teammates have my back no matter what,” Martinez said.
A pair of errors in the bottom of the fifth allowed Rylee Pierce to get all the way to third, and she scored on an RBI single from Hannah Martinez.
The Wildcats' defense held strong and McQuillin struck out two Rebels hitters in seventh to secure the win.
“I think tonight you saw some maturity out of Taylor,” Candrea said. “Instead of worrying toward the last part of the game, she was attacking and getting stronger. And that’s what you need at this time of year.”