Arizona’s offense struggled to reach base in the first two innings, but the bats came alive in the third and stayed hot the rest of the game.
Even with ace Taylor McQuillin struggling a little in the circle, the Wildcats extended their winning streak to 18 games with a 7-0 shutout Thursday night against Stanford.
The series opener at Hillenbrand Stadium was Arizona’s eighth shutout and 13th win in conference play.
Senior Hillary Edior said the team’s success comes down to “playing together, knowing we’re one team and we can deal with each other.”
The Cardinal came out aggressively with a lead-off single to right field on a 3-2 count. But after a foul out, McQuillin was able to strike out two batters to end the frame.
McQuillin ended the night having surrendered three hits and one walk, but she struck out five without allowing a run. It was her fifth shutout in seven Pac-12 starts, but the ace pitcher said she had a rough time locating pitches on the corners and finding the umpire’s strike zone.
McQuillin tried to find a way to elevate her pitches without leaving them over the plate.
“As you could see, the hits today were a bit hard and, obviously, much over the middle of the plate a little bit,” she said. “But I think the best thing about softball is my team scored me seven runs and I found a way to work around rough pitching in seven innings.
“Obviously, when you have a seven-run cushion, that’ll help you out a lot of it.”
The Wildcats (36-7, 13-0 Pac-12) got their first hits of the game in the third inning on a pair of singles from Hannah “Peanut” Martinez and Jenna Kean. After Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza popped out to first base, Reyna Carranco hit her fifth home run of the season to give Arizona a 3-0 lead.
Stanford got its second hit of the game with one out in the fourth, but Carranco, Jessie Harper and Rylee Pierce turned a double play to stop any momentum. In the bottom frame, Edior hit her second home run in as many games to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 4-0.
Edior said the early hitless innings were a result of getting familiar with Stanford pitcher Maddy Dwyer.
On a 1-1 count, Dwyer pitched a dropball inside — one of Edior’s favorite pitches — that resulted in the homer.
Coach Mike Candrea said he chose to play Edior as the designated player in Thursday’s lineup because she is good at hitting the inside pitch. Candrea said he thought Edior would fare better than Tamara Statman — a lefty — against Stanford’s right-handed pitcher.
“Hillary’s been seeing the ball good,” Candrea said. “I kind of watch her throughout the week and she’s had some good (batting practices) and I think she’s mentally ready to contribute. And I think it’s an absolute tribute to her to continue to work hard and continue to stay focused. When her time was called, she was prepared.”
Dejah Mulipola hit her 18th home run of the season in the fifth inning to score Palomino-Cardoza and Carranco, who had reached on a walk and a single, respectively.
The Wildcats finished with eight hits and scored all of their runs on the three homers.
“We had a good game plan and we just weren’t executing it early in the game,” Candrea said. “Finally made some adjustments and got the barrel of the ball and some good results. I thought today was a good game of good pitching, good defense (and) timely hitting.”