May 29, 2010
TUCSON -- A couple of big innings paced Arizona to a convincing victory, 10-2, and weekend sweep over Brigham Young in Super Regional play of the NCAA Softball Championships, to punch the Wildcats' ticket to Oklahoma City and its 22nd appearance in the Women's College World Series.
Brigham Young, Mountain West Conference champion, finished the season with a program-best 46 victories against 13 defeats after its first Super Regional trip in the school's 10-year softball history.
Arizona (48-11) scored nine runs in the third and fourth innings of the five-inning game and helped lift pitcher Sarah Akamine (14-5) to victory in relief. She took over for injured Kenzie Fowler in the bottom of the first. BYU starter Christie Zinanti (11-3) took the loss.
Akamine struck out five and allowed three hits in five innings, with no walks.
The Wildcats remain undefeated in NCAA play through five games and will face off against Tennessee in first-round WCWS action on Thursday. Arizona has played in every WCWS since 1988 except the 2004 season when it was eliminated in Tucson by Oklahoma and Louisiana-Lafayette in the old six-team Regional format.
UA, the visiting team, scored first in the top of the first. The Cats got a leadoff single Brittany Lastrapes and two-out walks to Stacie Chambers and Brigette Del Ponte to load the bases. Lini Koria worked Zinanti to a 3-2 count before drawing a ball inside for an RBI walk to make it 1-0.
BYU jumped on Kenzie Fowler in the bottom of the inning, with disastrous results for the freshman ace. Kristin Delahoussaye ripped a leadoff double down the leftfield line, and then J.C. Clayton singled off Fowler's pitching forearm, to delay play for several minutes, and make UA coach Mike Candrea go with Akamine off the bench.
She came in to face the NCAA's leading slugger, Angeline Quiocho, who hit a fielder's choice moving Delahoussaye to third. Andrea Ramirez struck out. Akamine threw a wild pitch in the next at-bat to allow Delahoussaye to score from third and tie the game. She then struck out Jessica Fitu.
Koria drew another bases-loaded walk to give Arizona the lead during a fourth-inning rally. Lauren Schutzler drew a leadoff walk and an out later stole second. Zinanti walked Chambers, Del Ponte and Koria just as she had in the first, and BYU coach Gordon Eakin went to the bullpen to bring in Paige Affleck. Kristen Arriola singled to drive in a pair, but was thrown out going for second, and then Baillie Kirker's ground ball was misplayed by Quiocho at third to allow Koria to score and make it 5-1.
UA batted around for five more runs in the fifth. Lastrapes led off with a double, Schutzler singled and Arredondo singled, with Lastrapes scoring on a misplay in the outfield. Chambers hit into a double play with Schutzler moving to third, and hen Del Ponte got an RBI single up the middle. Arriola hit a bases-clearing double and Kirker socked an RBI single to right-center. It was Kirker's first RBI since April 25.
BYU picked up a run in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single from Delahoussaye. She and Jessica Dugas were on base when Quiocho flied out to end the game. The nation's leading home run hitter with 28, she was hitless in seven at-bats in Tucson.
Arizona is 139-40 in NCAA play in its 24 tournament appearances... The Cats are 12-3 in Super Regional games... Next week UA will take a program mark of 57-29 in WCWS games to Oklahoma City...
Mike's Quick Take
BYU Coach Gordon Eakin: "I don't really have an opening statement. It was a game. We lost."
On Fowler getting knocked out: "We believed in ourselves. We had confidence, but we knew we were still up for a challenge."
On team success: "It was a nice run. That game shows who we are, and we believe that we can go past this point. These are tremendous young women; tremendous young women with character. They are a phenomenal representation of the institution, of their families, and of the sport."
On Arizona: "Arizona's hitters are polished. I give them credit for leaving Christy's pitches alone.
BYU Kristin Delahoussaye: thoughts going in: "I wasn't intimidated. We knew we were gonna fight and give it everything; give it all we got."
On season: "It was a fun run. We played good teams, we beat good teams, we tied good teams, and we lost to good teams."
BYU J.C. Clayton: on the line drive that hit Fowler: "I just hit it and ran. I saw her put her hands up to catch it through the corner of my eye, but I didn't realize it hit her until I was on base."
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea: "You saw the game. It was a great performance. When Kenzie got hit, our mental toughness set in. Then you began to see timely hits and runs on the board. Overall, it was a great game for Sarah (referring to senior pitcher Sarah Akamine)."
On Kenzie's status "We have to find out. We had X-rays done and nothing's broken. She's just sore."
On Oklahoma City: "We better be damn ready. We just need to remember to live in the moment, and be in the moment the entire time."
On BYU: "My hat goes off the BYU. They're well coached. They're not stupid. I tried to watch the videos to see what they do. It's kind of like breaking the code. But they're not stupid. They change things."
Arizona 2B Kristen Arriola: "The bases were loaded, I just did what I knew that I had to do and I hit it; I put the ball in play. It made their defense make a play and I just put pressure on the defense."
Arizona P Sarah Akamine: "Coach told me to be ready for anything. The team backed me up the whole time, from the second that I stepped out there. K'Lee came up to me and reminded me that this would be my last game here, so I stepped up and it was just a great feeling."
On first inning pitching: "I was nervous coming in, I'll admit that. But I stepped up after."
On confidence: "I built up my confidence in the UCLA series."