Team USA edges Arizona despite two home runs from Harper

Team USA edges Arizona despite two home runs from Harper
Team USA edged Arizona 5-4 Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,941 at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson. (Source: Mike Christy)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona played the U.S. Women's National Team on Tuesday at Hillenbrand Stadium, falling 5-4 in the closest game yet on the Stand Beside Her Tour, but the result was secondary to what was incredible night at Hillenbrand Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,941, the seventh largest crowd in school history.

Dejah Mulipola made her return to Hillenbrand Stadium, albeit in the visiting dugout competing for Team USA. Mulipola presented Arizona head coach Mike Candrea with a commemorative Team USA jacket pregame and represented the U.S. Women’s National Team at the pregame umpire meeting, exchanging lineups with Candrea.

UA also welcomed back Wildcat Olympians Jennie Finch, Lovie Jung, Leah O’Brien, Nicole Giordano and Alicia Hollowell in addition to Candrea and Caitlin Lowe, current members of the UA coaching staff.

On the field, Jessie Harper was the star of the show for the Wildcats, homering twice, once off of Cat Osterman and once off of Ally Carda, accounting for all four of UA’s runs. Harper’s homers came in consecutive at-bats in the fourth and fifth innings.

In all, the Wildcats collected four runs on seven hits off the best pitchers in the world while the UA pitching staff allowed five runs on nine hits. All of USA’s runs came in the first three innings. Arizona’s 1-2 pitchers, Alyssa Denham and Mariah Lopez, pitched the final four innings and combined to throw four shutout innings with two total hits and five combined strikeouts.

Arizona’s four runs were the most surrendered by USA Softball thus far in its Stand Beside Her Tour while the five runs scored were the third fewest it had scored. Team USA improved to 10-0 on the tour.

The Wildcats now face a quick turnaround as they will head west for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, which begins on Thursday in Palm Springs. Arizona will face No. 7 Florida, No. 18 Missouri, Auburn, San Diego State and Texas A&M over a three-day span this weekend. Arizona is 9-1 on the season.