Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Arizona Downs Boston, Advances to Winner's Bracket
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 16, 2014

NCAA Softball Championships

Tucson, Ariz., Regional


May 16, 2014

Game 2 - Arizona 9, Boston University 6


TUCSON, Ariz.--Estela Pinon struck out eight to win in in four innings of relief and help lead host Arizona (42-13) to a 9-6 victory over Boston University (35-20). It put the Wildcats in the winner's bracket of the NCAA Softball Championships regional here at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. 

Arizona will play LSU in Game 3 at 1:30 p.m. (MST/PDT) Saturday for the right to play in Sunday's championship game. The Terriers will play Louisville in the first elimination game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Arizona collected 11 hits and was aided by a pair of miscues that cost the Terriers. Kelsey Rodriguez drove in three runs, with Chelsea Suitos knocking in a pair. Pinon improved to 18-7 on the year. Pinon allowed two runs on three hits, walking a pair. 

UA took an early, short-lived, lead with four unearned runs in the second. Mo Mercado reached on a one-out error by shortstop Brittany Clendenny, and Lauren Young doubled. Courtney Rodriguez hit a grounder to third and defender Brittany Younan threw out Mercado trying to score. But Chelsea Suitos singled in Young, Hallie Wilson got a hit to load the bases and Kelsey Rodriguez cleared them all with a double to right field. She was thrown out trying to stretch it into a three-base hit.

The Terriers struck back with hits by Emily Feinbaum and Amy Ekart and a walk issued to Clendenny by UA's starter, Shelby Babcock. With two outs, Chelsea Kerr slugged her third homer of the season, a grand slam to tie the contest. But in the bottom of the frame, a sacrifice fly by Mercado and a run-scoring single by Young put UA back on top, 6-4.

UA pulled Babcock before the start of the third, bringing in Pinon. She struck out the first two batters she faced, but BU put the tying run at the plate after an infield bunt single by Jayme Mask. Pinon then struck out Younan to end the threat.

In the fifth, the Wildcats put three more on the board, also all unearned. Chelsea Goodacre singled to lead off the frame, and with two outs Young's high fly ball was dropped near the fence by center fielder Moriah Connolly to allow Goodacre to score and Young to reach third. Connolly couldn't get to a deeper ball off the bat of Courtney Rodriguez and it turned into an RBI triple. Suitos singled her in to make it 9-4.

BU brought in reliever Makinna Akers to pitch the UA sixth in favor of starter Melanie Russell (12-4). Akers gave up a leadoff hit but the Terriers turned a nifty 7-4 double play to end the inning.

The Terriers added two runs in the top of the seventh on an RBI double from Clendenny and a sacrifice fly by Kehr, who led all players at the plate with the five RBI. 

Arizona is an at-large pick making its 28th consecutive NCAA appearance, the nation's current best and an NCAA Division I record. Boston University, winner of the Patriot League Tournament for an automatic bid, is playing in its 7th tournament.

UA improved to 80-8 overall in NCAA Regional action in its 28 appearances and has lost a first-round game at home only one time, in 1990 to Arizona State, 1-0.

Arizona postgame press conference transcript:

Head coach Mike Candrea

Opening statement:

“In game one, all you are worried about is winning. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done, and we’ll put our focus on LSU tomorrow.”

On the lack of home runs:

“I don’t think that you can go up there and try to hit home runs, and that’s not something that we try to do. Tonight was one of those nights that the ball didn’t find the other side of the fence. You have to be able to manufacture runs, and you have to be able to do the little things. I thought that Suitos came up big with a couple of big hits. Their lack of defense in the outfield kind of shot them in the foot.  It was just one of those games where we got what we needed to, but we made the game a lot more interesting than it should’ve been”

On starting Shelby Babcock:

“We played them here last year, and (Babcock) threw a three hitter. We really feel like we needed to get some innings out of someone, so we were hoping to get a solid performance of about four or five innings out of her, but when you get into these first games, you don’t want to make it interesting. You have to take it one game at a time and I felt that after (Babcock) gave up the four runs, that we had to make a switch, and not put ourselves in one of those situations.”

Senior designated player Kelsey Rodriguez

On manufacturing runs:

“It’s very crucial to put them together whether the ball is going over the fence or not, it’s all about finding a way. It was great having Suitos come up clutch with all these bunts, it adds a base runner and it is definitely a momentum changer. As we go farther and as things get harder, home runs will not come as easily, and finding a way to score no matter how is crucial. Tonight it was very crucial, to have us just find a way whether it was because of an error or it was a bunt, or finding a hole, we just need to take advantage as much as we can.

Junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre

On the offensive approach:

“Going up there we’re not really thinking, ‘let’s hit a home run, let’s hit a home run.’ We really just want to get up there and do what we can. If we get on base with an error, great. It gives us more opportunities to score, and tonight it went our way to get on base.”

Boston postgame press conference transcript:

Head coach Kathryn Gleason

Opening statement:

"I thought it was a great game in a great environment. We pick up the ball in the outfield and a couple times in the infield and we were right in that game. I thought our team played well. We competed, and we pitched well enough to win."

On the errors:

"You can't give a team like that extra outs, and that's what we did. We haven't done that in a long time. I think we just pick up the ball, and we're right there. They had the momentum shift when they scored the four runs, and we took the momentum back with the grand slam, and we hung in there and we competed. I'm really proud of them for that, but we know what we need to fix to compete tomorrow and to keep playing."

On the optimism moving forward:

"Absolutely. I've told them since last week when we won the Patriot League Championship that they've earned this and they're here for a reason. They're a team that never gives up, and they're in every game. When the other team scores, we score. We fight for that pitching change, and that's what happened today. We're ready to get to tomorrow and compete the same way we did today,"

On hitting more homers than the NCAA leaders:

“That's a great positive. Chelsea (Kehr) hit two home runs to help us win games last week, so for her to continue to do that was a huge momentum shift.”

Senior infielder Chelsea Kehr

On the competitiveness of the game:

"It really shows how much fight we have in us and how much we believe in each other. If we had just caught a few more balls here and there, I think we could have had them. We would have had them on the ropes, and that was our main goal going into that game, to have them on the ropes and give ourselves a shot. Being able to fight back shows our teams character. We never gave up. We say before every game, I don't care who we're playing because we always play our game. We could be playing the USA National Team and we wouldn't care, we would still be going out there and having a blast and doing everything we could to win."

On the grand slam:

"It just means a lot because I could feel the momentum slipping from us, and we needed to get something that inning, so being able to do that shows that we come back after getting runs scored on us. We loaded up the bases to try to make something happen, and we always just battle."

Sophomore pitcher Melanie Russell

On her performance:

"I felt great. We prepared all week for it, so it was just another game and another team to face."

On what Arizona does well:

"They take hacks. But I think I kept the ball low in the zone, and they're a good hitting team,"

NCAA Softball Championships

Tucson, Ariz., Regional


May 16, 2014

Game 1 - LSU 13, Louisville 9


TUCSON, Ariz.--Louisiana State (36-22) moved on in the winner's bracket with a 13-9 victory over Louisville (36-21) in the NCAA Softball Championships regional opener at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium Friday night.

LSU's three-bomb first inning staked the Tigers to an early lead, but it didn't stand up.

Centerfielder A.J. Andrews led off LSU's bottom of the first with a home run to right-center off Louisville starter Maryssa Becker. An out later, designated player Sahvanna Jaquish socked her team-best 14th homer to chase Becker after just three batters.

Reliever Rachel Le Coq served up a first-pitch home run to Bianka Bell to make it 3-0.

Hannah Kiyohara collected Louisville's first hit off Corbello (18-8) in the third, dropping a sinking double down the right-field line. She moved up on a fly ball and scored UL's first run on an RBI single by Jordan McNary.

LSU answered by batting around in the third. An RBI single by Sandra Simmons followed a pair of walks, Allison Falcon knocked a two-run double, and then after Tammy Wray was hit by a pitch, Bailey Landry singled up the middle to drive in Falcon for a 7-1 lead, and chase Le Coq in favor of reliever Caralisa Connell (10-6).

Taner Fowler and Maggie Ruckenbrod had back-to-back one-out doubles in the UL fourth, with Kiyohara hitting a sacrifice fly, and Kelsi Jones picking up an RBI single to cut the margin to 7-3.

The Cardinals knotted the score with a four-run fifth, with three of the runs unearned. Kayla Soles had an RBI single, an infield error brought in one more and Kiyohara knocked a two-run single.

It took LSU only a few minutes to regain the lead, batting around for the second time in the game. Wray followed a hit by Kellsi Kloss, a sac by Simmons and a hit by Falcon to bring in one tally, Landry walked to load the bases, and an illegal pitch brought in Falcon. After a walk and a fielder's choice, pinch-hitter Alayna Falcon singled to right for a 10-7 lead. A throwing error by third baseman Whitney Arion brought in two more runs.

Louisville picked up a pair of runs in the top of the sixth on a single by Katie Keller and a two-run home run by Duncan. LSU came right back with doubles from Falcon, her fourth hit, and Wray to make it 13-9

LSU will play the winner of the Boston University-Arizona game to open action here at 1:30 p.m. (MST/PDT) Saturday for the right to play in Sunday's championship game. The Cardinals play an elimination game against Boston in the second Saturday game at 4:30 p.m. local time.

LSU postgame press conference transcript:

Head coach Beth Torina

Opening statement:

“Give a lot of credit to our offense tonight. I thought they scored early, they scored often, they continued to put the pressure on Louisville, and they did a really nice job of battling against every pitcher they saw tonight. A ton of respect to Louisville, they fought so hard tonight. What a quality program and we have a lot of respect for what they did tonight.”

On the early offense:

“Unbelievable momentum, and unbelievable to have our leadoff hitter go out and set the tempo for us like that. You can’t ask for much more than that performance right there”

Senior third baseman Tammy Wray

“We just focused a lot in buying into the plans that coaches give us. We were kind of feeding off of each other, bring our trust into everyone before and after us, and having confidence that if we don’t get it done, they will. I know that it helps me personally knowing that the person behind me is going to get it done.  A lot of credit to everyone in the lineup, they did great tonight.”

Senior infielder Allison Falcon

“A lot of credit to our coaches for having us prepared for every specific pitcher that came in. We saw three different pitchers and having a plan every time going up was a real confidence booster.”

On her performance:

“I credit that to our preparation we had. We started on Monday knowing we were going to work outside a lot more.”

Louisville postgame press conference transcript:

Head coach Sandy Pearsall

Opening statement:

"I don't know that I've been in a regional game quite like that. It wasn't really a pretty game for either team, I don't think, in terms of pitching. Both teams were hitting the ball very well, and it was just a really crazy game. But I'm proud of my team. They did not quit. Certainly when we fell behind early in the game they could have quit, but they didn't. They came back and fought hard and that's what kept us in it."

On LSU’s offensive success:

"I think what happened there was Marissa didn't really have it. She was hanging her pitches right up in the zone and when she hangs her change up up in the zone that's a problem for us, and clearly they capitalized on it right away. It really came down to the pitching, and we needed to keep the ball down in the zone.”

On the team’s resolve:

"I think that comes down to the fact that I have some upperclassmen that are driving the ship. They got out there and they refused to lose, and they decided they were going to dig in and fight. You never know sometimes what seniors are going to do, but this senior class has a lot of fight and they're not going to give up, ever."

On preparing for the next opponent:

“Well we were waiting to see what would happen here to see who we would face, but, obviously, we've done our homework on Arizona an Boston, and obviously Arizona is going to hit the ball and so is Boston. This is a regional. Everybody is going to hit the ball. They're here for a reason. They put offense on the field and pitch the ball, and for us, pitching seems to be a little bit of a struggle right now."

Senior second baseman Katie Keller

On LSU’s offense:

“I knew they were going to hit the ball, but I didn't think they were going to come out like that because Marissa has been pretty strong for us, but we fought back really hard, and tomorrow is going to be a whole different day for us.”

On playing in this atmosphere:

“It's different playing here, but we know they are going to hit the ball, so we're just going to have to come back and hit it as hard."