NCAA Region 3 - Saturday, May 21
(Game 4 below: Princeton 3, Lehigh 1); Game 5 below: Oklahoma State 6, Princeton 3)
TUCSON, Ariz.--Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell took a perfect game into the bottom of the seventh, and then hung on to emerge with a two-hit shutout over Oklahoma State in Region 3 of the NCAA Softball Championships here at Hillenbrand Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Arizona might have made it a broader margin but left 12 runners on base. And the Cowgirls took a while, but still sent the tying run to the plate twice in the bottom of the seventh. Hollowell struck out 11 and earned her 28th victory of the year.
Caitlin Lowe led the game off reaching base on an error by OSU first baseman Dominique Van Nortwick, was sacrificed to second by Autumn Champion and beat a throw to the plate off Kristie Fox's single to center for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
More short-game tactics helped produce another run in the third. Fox drew a walk, moved to second on Jackie Coburn's sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a single up the middle by Shelly Schultz.
Arizona came up with another run in the top of the sixth to make it 3-0, but missed out on a bigger opportunity, stranding its 12th runner of the game. Adrienne Acton drew a walk, Lowe reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second when Shelly Schultz drew another walk, and then reached home on a single by Coburn. OSU pitcher Jessica Hoppock, however, pitched out the jam, stranding three.
OSU's threat started with leadoff batter Shanel Scott singling off Hollowell to open the seventh. After Hollowell struck out Stephanie Nicholson, Courtney Totte singled to left. Hollowell struck out Tara Jeffery, but catcher Coburn threw a pickoff try into right to move Scott
Arizona (41-10) moves to the championship round Sunday at 12 noon. The Cats will play Oklahoma State, Saturday night winners over Princeton in the second elimination game. The Cowgirls would have to beat UA twice to win the trip to the Super Regional round next week.
Oklahma State Sophmore Shanel Scott:
"We just have to build from this game. Deep down we know we can beat Arizonsa. It's just a mental thing. We know we can beat anybody and we hope to show that tonight."
Oklahoma State Head Coach Margaret Rebenar
"I thought it was a very well played game. Alicia Hollowell did a real nice job on our hitters. Jessica [Hoppock] gave a good performance as well, though. We put that rally together at the end, and hopefully we will see that same team tomorrow if we take care of our job tonight."
Arizona Junior Alicia Hollowell
"It didn't feel like we were on eggshells last year, but we are just not as tense this year. We aren't worrying about anything. We just want to keep playing."
Arizona Junior Shelly Shultz
"My swing is coming around at the right time. Everything is starting to come together for us at the right time. I'm just doing whatever I can."
Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea
"This was our biggest game of the year. We have put ourselves in the position we need to be in and want to be in. I was pleased with Hollowell's effort. Our three, four, five hitters got some key hits. That is what they are supposed to do. Over all we are playing well, but it means nothing for tomorrow. We have to keep learning how to compete."
TUCSON, Ariz.--Emily Ling of Lehigh and Erin Snyder of Princeton engaged in a pitcher's duel for most of the two teams' NCAA Region 3 elimination game, but the Tigers bats woke up in the sixth and helped pace Princeton (36-19) to a 3-1 victory that eliminated the Mountain Hawks of the Patriot League from the tournament.
Lehigh closed its season with a school-record 41 victories against 10 defeats. The victors earned the right to turn around and play Oklahoma State in the evening semi-final for the chance to play host Arizona on Sunday.
Princeton had the bases loaded in the top of the fourth but came up empty. Erin Snyder led with a single and was the first runner to reach scoring position after a sacrifice bunt by Amanda Erickson. Lehigh pitcher Emily Ling got a lineout off Beth Dalmut, but walked Stephanie Steel and Ty Ries before Tiffany Andras popped out to end the chance.
Jessica Young led off the Lehigh fourth with her second home run of the year, a shot to left field, to record the Mountain Hawks' third hit of the game.
In Princeton's sixth, a two-run single by Ty Ries and a run-scoring hit by Tiffany Andras made the most of four hits in the frame. To that point Ling had held the Tigers to a pair of hits.
Lehigh loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with hits by Taryn Hanley, Young and Whitney Schenbeck, but Snyder got pinch hitter Lauren Haney to pop out to second base for the third out.
The Hawks didn't go down without a fight. Pinch-hitter Megan Conrad beat out a bunt single and with one out Ketherine Wegert also reached on an infield single. Leadoff batter Kate Marvel moved both runners up with a try at reaching on a bunt single. Hanley popped out to end the game.
Lehigh Coach Fran Troyan: "We had a great time here in Tucson. Everyone was great. We saw three top programs. It was a game of inches today, and we came up a bit short. That's how life is."
TUCSON, Ariz.--Stephanie Nicholson snapped a tie Saturday night with a three-run home run in the top of the seventh to put Oklahoma State into the Region 3 NCAA Division I Softball Championships with a 6-3 victory over Princeton.
The Tigers were eliminated at 1-2 in tourney play and 35-20 overall. Oklahoma State improved to 35-23 and 2-1 in regional action.
Melissa Finley blasted a two-out solo home run deep over the batter's eye in center field to stake the Tigers to a lead in the bottom of the first.
Finley touched up OSU pitcher Jessica Hoppock again in the third, following a Lauren Bierman single with a two-run home run into the 12th row of the left field bleachers to make it 3-0.
Cowgirls' left fielder Megan Carey, though, tied it all up with one swing in the top of the sixth, smacking a line drive just over the left field fence after Shanel Scott and Stephanie Nicholson singled. Princeton pitcher Kristen Schaus, in her first action of the tournament, had held OSU to a pair of hits before Scott led off the inning with an infield single.
OSU pitcher Jessica Hoppock held the Tigers to four hits and won her second game of the tournament. Earlier in the day she suffered the loss to Arizona that set up the night game for the Cowgirls.