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Softball in Salt Lake City can be eventful. It started for Utah and No. 21 Arizona before they threw a pitch when the schedule was adjusted to avoid a storm expected late Friday and throughout Saturday. Whether the early start of 9 a.m. MST had anything to do with it, the day turned into a wild ride for the Wildcats as they split with the Utes, losing 3-1 in the early game and winning 10-8 in eight innings in the later game.

Neither team seemed ready for the early morning start. Each team had just one hit through the middle of the fourth inning. That’s when Utah finally got things going.

The Utes got two runs by being aggressive in the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff double, a single, a productive groundout, and a stolen base put the home team on top against starting pitcher Miranda Stoddard.

Arizona tried to answer in the fifth. First baseman Carlie Scupin hit her first home run since Feb. 24 against Marshall. The two-out solo shot put Arizona on the board. While it was Arizona’s only run of the first game, it seemed to jumpstart the Arizona slugger, who followed it with a strong outing at the plate in the second game.

The Utes struck back with another run on two hits in the bottom of the fifth. The home team managed three runs off five hits and one out against Stoddard.

Aissa Silva entered the game in the bottom of the fifth after Stoddard gave up a one-out home run. Silva surrendered two hits but no runs to the Utes. Utah pitcher Mariah Lopez got her first win of the season to improve to 1-8.

Silva was right back out there to start the second game. She gave up a run in the first and a solo home run in the third, but she was relatively effective. Through 3.1 innings, she gave up two runs on three hits and one walk.

The Arizona coaches saw something that told them to make a change after Silva surrendered the walk. The Wildcats were leading 3-2 off a strong fourth inning started by an RBI single from Tayler Biehl, who went 3 for 5 on the day. The coaches removed Silva and sent in reliever Ali Blanchard with one out and one on in the bottom of the inning.

It didn’t go as they planned. Blanchard gave up a single, a wild pitch, and a walk. Stoddard had to go back into the circle with one out and the bases loaded.

It wasn’t a great situation for Stoddard after losing a close game earlier in the day. She allowed a two RBI single and a walk before getting her first out on a sacrifice fly that scored the third run of the inning. Another RBI single gave Utah a 6-3 lead before Stoddard recorded the final out of the inning.

Things didn’t look so good for Arizona. Allie Skaggs led off the fifth with a single, but she was wiped out by Blaise Biringer’s fielder’s choice two batters later. The Wildcats still had a runner on first when they committed the third out.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, Stoddard bounced back from the rough fourth inning. She gave up a leadoff double but sat down the next three batters to keep runs off the board.

The Arizona offense responded. Biehl continued her strong day at the plate, leading off the inning with her third straight hit of the game. Kaiah Altmeyer put two on base with a walk. After two groundouts, Scupin stepped in and hit her second home run of the day. This one was a three-run shot and tied the game.

Stoddard got her first 1-2-3 inning of the game to maintain the tie after six innings, and her offense kept the pressure up in the final inning of regulation.

Olivia DiNardo reached on a walk and Biringer followed by reaching on an error. Brooke Mannon, who was running for DiNardo, reached third on the error. Catcher Emily Schepp drove Mannon in for the lead with a sacrifice fly. A two-out RBI double by Altmeyer put the Wildcats up by two runs with just three outs to get.

They couldn’t get them.

Sophie Jacquez tied the game with a one-out double, scoring two for the Utes. Stoddard kept the damage at two runs, but it was on to extra innings.

Arizona’s hot offense continued. The hot hitting of Scupin again played a big part.

A leadoff single by Regan Shockey set things up for Scupin, who made good contact for the RBI double. Arizona had a lead again, but was one run enough?

Zaedi Tagalog came in to run for Scupin. Skaggs moved her to third with a bunt, and Biringer’s RBI single gave Arizona another run to work with.

The bottom of the eighth inning wasn’t comfortable for Arizona despite the 10-8 lead. An error by Skaggs gave Utah a leadoff baserunner. It was time for another pitching change.

Silva re-entered the game that she started after the error. She sat down the next three batters to secure the win for her team and earn the save for herself.

Stoddard got the win, improving her record to 3-8 on the season.

The teams will take the field to decide the series on Sunday, Apr. 7. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. MST/PDT.

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