COLUMBIA, MO – After sneaking into their 35th straight NCAA Tournament, Arizona Softball (34-20, 8-16) showed their dominance, beating Illinois 8-3.
The legacy of Arizona Softball may have played a big part in the Wildcats getting to their 35th straight NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats finished an uncharacteristic 33-20 and tied for last place in the Pac-12; however, that didn’t seemingly matter as they took on No. 2 seeded Illinois.
Opening the tournament action against the Illini on Friday afternoon, Arizona looked, unlike the team we saw this season. The Wildcats were dominant!
Plating eight runs and holding the Illini to just three runs, Arizona was able to cruise to the 8-3 victory thanks largely in part to the performance of Sharlize Palacios and Blaise Biringer who went a combined 4-7 from the dish with four RBIs and two home runs.
Despite a rocky start, the Arizona Softball bats came alive, belting four home runs en route to the opening round win versus Illinois.
Opening tournament play against the Illini, the Wildcats would turn to starter Hanah Bowen in this one.
Now whether it was nerves or something else, Hanah would be shelled for two runs in the first inning. But luckily, she would settle in right after as she held Illinois scoreless for five straight innings before surrendering one more run in the seventh.
Hanah would finish her day getting the complete game victory as she pitched all seven innings, holding Illinois to three runs on 10 hits while striking out eight.
Even though Arizona fell behind 2-0 early, the Wildcats were persistent in this one, especially as the game turned into a home run party for the Cats in the second inning when third baseman Izzy Pacho would blast one over the wall to cut Illinois’ lead to 2-1.
The very next inning, Palacios blasted a two-run shot to make it 3-2, followed by another home run, this time a solo shot from Allie Skaggs in the fourth inning to make it 4-2, Cats.
Arizona would tack on two more runs in the fifth thanks to some timely hitting from the Wildcats, but Blaise would cap things when turned on a 2-0 pitch that sailed over the wall and gave the Cats two more runs. It was 8-2 Arizona at that point.
Illinois would try to rally late, scoring a run in the seventh, but their efforts were quelled quickly as the Wildcats shut the door to earn the 8-3 victory!
Where does Arizona Softball go from here?
With the win, Arizona improves to 34-20 (8-16) on the year and will return to action on Saturday afternoon when they take on No. 1 seed Missouri. First pitch is set for 11:30 AM Arizona time.