May 27, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY - Candace Harper's two-out single in the top of the seventh ignited a California six-run, two-out rally and led the Golden Bears over defending titlist Arizona, 6-0, to their first NCAA softball championship Monday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Jocelyn Forest (29-12) did the job in the circle, limiting Arizona to one hit and struck out eight in earning her ninth consecutive victory. She was 4-0 in Women's College World Series games this year, and dropped UA's Jennie Finch to 3-1. She struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to highlight her dominance in the game.
The Bears' two-out rally included Harper's big hit, a bases-loaded walk issued by Finch to Courtney Scott, a three-run double by Jessica Pamanian which chased Finch, and an RBI double by Chelsea Spencer off reliever Jenny Gladding. It was the most runs scored against Arizona in a single inning all year.
Finch ended her season 35-6 and ended her streak of seven consecutive NCAA tournament victories for the Wildcats (55-12). The Cats missed in their bid to win a second consecutive NCAA title for the second time and their seventh potential championship overall.
The Wildcats never got untracked offensively against Forest, who was named the Series Most Outstanding Player. Forest also had thrown a one-hit victory, 2-1, over Arizona in Berkeley on April 21, allowing only a home run by Finch.
Arizona's Lovie Jung drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, but Courtey Fossatti popped up attempting to bunt, Finch popped to first and Jung was called out for leaving early on a steal attempt with Leneah Manuma at bat.
An error helped Cal load the bases in the top of the second, but the Beats couldn't push a run across.With Courtney Scott on first after a fielder's choice, Jessica Pamanian's grounder at first got by Manuma and Scott reached third while Pamanian went to second on the throw from the outfield. Chelsea Spencer grounded out, Mikella Pedretti walked to fill the bases, then Kristen Bayless popped to Jackie Coburn to retire the side.
Arizona threatened in the third when Jenny Gladding reached second when centerfielder Kaleo Eldredge dropped her high fly ball. Meaghan Finnerty sacrificed her to third and Crystal Farley struck out. Forest intentionally walked Jung to create a force at second. Jung stole second but Fossatti fouled out to the catcher.
Cal stranded its fifth runner of the game in the fourth. Scott drew the fourth walk off Finch and was sacrificed to second by Pamanian, but Spencer and Pedretti each lined out.
UA got its first hit off Forest with a two-out single by Mackenzie Vandergeest in the fourth.
Cal got its first hit and stranded two more in the fifth. Kristen Bayless led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Eldredge. Kristen Morely walked, but Candace Harper walked and Bears power hitter, Veronica Nelson, hit into a force play.
Jung walked for the third time in the bottom of the sixth and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Fossatti, but Finch grounded to third and Manuma struck out for the third out.
Wildcats named to the All-Women's College World Series team included Finch, Manuma and Coburn. Nelson and Spencer joined Forest as Cal selections on the all-tournament team.