The Huskies won it with a towering home run from Julia DePonte to lead off the eighth, giving the Huskies a dramatic 2-1 home victory Friday night over No. 9 Arizona.
Comebacks don’t taste much sweeter than this.
Trailing by a run after losing a no-hit bid to a solo home run with one out in the sixth inning, the top-ranked Washington softball team forced extra innings with a two-out, run-scoring single by Sis Bates in the bottom of the seventh. The Huskies then won it with a towering home run from Julia DePonte to lead off the eighth, giving the Huskies a dramatic 2-1 home victory Friday night over No. 9 Arizona.
“We need to have these kinds of games, to be able to come through when we’re down, get that tying run late in the game, play great defense and get the strikeouts when we need them,” said UW coach Heather Tarr. “That’s championship softball, whether it’s played on March 23 or May 23. It gives us a lot of confidence to know we can do it.”
In front of 658 spectators at Husky Softball Stadium in football-like conditions (overcast, chilly, breezy), the clutch hits by Bates and DePonte salvaged a sterling night in the circle by junior Taran Alvelo.
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Alvelo gave up just two hits in eight innings and struck out 14, a career high and the most strikeouts by a UW pitcher since Bryana Walker fanned 14 in 2014.
“Taran, I thought, pitched a perfect game in terms of allowing us the opportunity to come back,” Tarr said. “In her past, maybe that one home run leads to a disbelief. That’s not against her, but our offense has been a little bit struggling. (UW, 30-2 and 2-2 Pac-12, was shut out twice last weekend at Arizona State in its first defeats of the season.) We didn’t have her back last week. I’m proud of her.”
Arizona (24-4, 3-1) entered the game with the nation’s eighth-best team batting average (.347), yet Alvelo held the Wildcats hitless until leadoff hitter Alyssa Palomino sliced a 2-2 pitch to left that cleared the wall by a few feet.
Alvelo (14-1), who had recorded her ninth strikeout one batter earlier, elected to not let the homer affect her, fanning five of the last 11 hitters she faced.
“I did what I needed to do to get our team back in there to score runs,” she said. “I’ve grown to be that kind of pitcher. I’m just going put all in, every single pitch, for my team, because I know they’re trying.”
Washington loaded the bases in the third and had two on with one out in the fourth, but did not score. With runners on first and second in the seventh, Bates hit the first pitch she saw from Taylor McQuillin (16-2) to left for a run-scoring single.
DePonte teed off on an 0-1 changeup for her game-winner.
“She’s a great pitcher,” DePonte said. “I took one on her earlier in the game, so she probably expected I was going to take it again. It’s just about jumping on it, and it felt great off the bat.”
• With two out in the eighth, Alvelo hit Arizona’s Reyna Carranco with a pitch that became wedged between the face mask and brim of her helmet. She was escorted off the field while holding a towel to her face. A team representative said she was taken to a clinic after the game but had no report on her condition.
• The teams play against Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.