Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Move to Regional Title Round
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 19, 2012
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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May 19, 2012

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Arizona 7, Notre Dame 2 Get Acrobat Reader

NDSU 9, Hawaii 7 Get Acrobat Reader

Notre Dame 8, NDSU 4 Get Acrobat Reader

NCAA Softball Championships - Tucson Regional - Game 3

Arizona 7, Notre Dame 2

TUCSON--Arizona moved into the NCAA Regional championship game with a 7-2 victory over Notre Dame in Saturday afternoon softball playoff action at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Brigette Del Ponte put Arizona (37-17) on the board with a two-out solo home run, her 15th of the year, to left off Irish starter Laura Winter in the top  of the first inning. UA pitcher Kenzie Fowler (15-8) put Notre Dame down in order to start things off in the circle in the bottom of the inning, striking out two.

Emiliee Koerner and Katey Haus hit one-out singles to put a Notre Dame runner in scoring position in the bottom of the second, but Fowler struck out two more to stop the threat.

UA used some short game to set up some scoring in the third. Kristen Arriola laced a double down the left-field line, was sacrificed to second by Chelsea Suitos and scored on a bunt single by Karissa Buchanan.  Hallie Wilson hit a bunt single, and Buchanan took an extra base when Notre Dame failed to cover third, and then scored on Del Ponte's single up the middle to make it 3-0.

The Fighting Irish (39-15) answered with a run.  Jenna Simon beat out an infield hit and continued to second when shortstop Shelby Pendley's throw went wide, moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Alexa Maldonado and scored on Kelsey Thornton's chop single.

Notre Dame brought in Brittany O'Donnell to relieve Winter  in the fourth  and UA welcomed  her with a one-out single by Arriola, a walk to Suitos and an infield hit by Buchanan to load the bases.  Wilson hit into a force at the plate but Del Ponte singled over second base to drive in a pair for a 5-1 lead.

The irish scored an unearned run in the fifth.  Simon reached second on a dropped fly by Buchanan in left and crossed on a single to cent er from Maldonado.  UA centerfielder Wilson made a fine catch at the warning track on a liner from Koerner later in the frame to strand two.

Haus doubled to lead off the Irish sixth, but Fowler got a ground ball, a popup and an infield liner to stop the bid.

Arizona added runs in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Pendley and an RBI ground ball from Chelsea Goodacre to make it 7-2.

Shelb y Babcock came on to pitch the seventh inning for Arizona, without a save opportunity. She struck out Maldonado, got Thornton to ground to third and got Buntin to line to short.

Fowler  gave up eight hits, struck out six and walked none.  Winter (29-10) took the loss. Notre Dame moves to an elimination game at approximately 8 p.m.  local time.

Arizona vs. Notre Dame Postgame Quotes

Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea

"We're playing really inspired baseball right now. Our pitching has picked up, not walking any batters was pretty big today, and has been our goal, and we're getting a lot of quality at-bats."

"I'm very pleased with Kenzie Fowler's performance today. She's been making a lot of small steps, and you can really see her getting her confidence back in her pitches. What she did, plus Shelby Babcock coming in for the final inning, really kept us in it today."

Junior Kenzie Fowler

"We started with the lead, which is really awesome, and it really allowed me to pitch freely. It was really all about getting back to basics and attacking the plate."

Junior Brigette Del Ponte

"It was a good game. I definitely got lucky, there were a couple plays like that `duck fart' where I probably shouldn't have gotten on base, but I did. We just stayed ahead and got the hits."

Senior Karissa Buchanan

"This is my favorite time of year. It's what we've worked for, and we got the hits and runs, which are very important for this time of year."

Notre Dame Head Coach Deanna Gumpf

"We just didn't do anything well enough to get the win today. We didn't pitch well, and we didn't hit well, and we left too many runners on base. Now we just have to forget about all of it and get ready for the next game."

"Kenzie Fowler did a lot of things well. She got outs when she needed it, used the whole plate, and threw a very good mix of pitches at us."

Freshman Jenna Simon

"Like coach said, we just have to forget about this game and get ready to come out and do it all again." 

Junior Brittany O'Donnell

"Having a long first game didn't hurt us. We just didn't do enough to get the win this time. We just have to keep battling and come back out for the next game."


NCAA Softball Championships - Tucson Regional - Game 4

North Dakota State 9, Hawaii 7

TUCSON--North Dakota State (38-21) stayed alive for another game with an NCAA Softball Regional loser's bracket victory over No. 13-ranked Hawaii, 9-7, Saturday evening at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The hit-fest saw 22 safeties and the teams scored in eight consecutive half-innings from the second to the fifth. There were eight lead changes or ties, but winning pitcher Krista Menke (25-12) held the Rainbow Wahine scoreless in its last two innings.

Hawaii ended its season at 44-9 in its 10th NCAA Championships appearance.

Menke helped NDSU move on to play Notre Dame in the second elimination game following. Hawaii ace Stephanie Ricketts (28-6) took the loss in three-plus innings of relief.

The Rainbow Wahine picked up the first run in the top of the second when Leisha Li'ili'I walked, pinch runner Jordan Burton moved up on two sac bunts and scored on a double by Makani Duyalonsod-Kaleimamahu.

North Dakota State answered with a strange play. With runners on first and second, Jenina Ortega hit a ground ball to second, and a collision between runner Brandi Enriquez and second baseman Dara Pagaduan caused a loose ball long enough to permit Alex Sobrero to score from second, while Pagaduan tossed to shortstop for a tag. Hawaii Coach Bob Coolen argued for interference and was thrown out of the game.

Hawaii came right back with a two-run home from Kayla Wartner and a solo shot by Sarah Robinson to open the third and regain a 4-1 lead.

A dropped fly by Hawaii rightfielder Brynne Buchanan gave North Dakota State a fourth out and Brea Konz hit a two-run single to cut the lead, and then a double by Amanda Grable drove in another run to knot the score. A single brought in a fourth run - all unearned - to put the Bison back on top, 5-4.

Wartner followed a walk with a two-run homer, her sixth of the season, to put the Wahine back on top in the top of the fourth.  The lead lasted only briefly. Ortega led off the Bison fourth with her second home run of the season to tie the game at six apiece.

But Hawaii answered with an RBI single from pinch-hitter Jocelyn Enrique to push across the go-ahead run in the next half frame, while coach Coolen watched from a service deck outside the stadium on  adjacent Gittings Gym.

The Bison came right back and scored a pair, one unearned, off another Hawaii error and an RBI groundout by Sobrero in the bottom of the fifth to make it 8-7 North Dakota State.  Hawaii broke the scoring string with a scoreless sixth.

Taylor Mortensen homered to left to open the Bison sixth to give NDSU its biggest lead, 9-7.   

Kaile Nakao was hit by a Menke pitch to open Hawaii's seventh. The Bison got an infield out when Duhaylonsod's single hit Parnaby. Kliebenstein singled to left and both runners moved up on a ground out by Kelly Majam. Menke got a foul pop from Wartner to end the game.


Hawaii Assistant Coach Dierdre Wisneski:

"We just fought hard and couldn't keep them off the bases. I liked the way we fought, but it does hurt that we came up short. We needed to keep their hitters off balance, but we've been in this position before, had our ups and downs, we just couldn't get the win."

"We've come a long way this season, and just because we're done here, doesn't mean we have anything to hang our heads about."

Freshman Kayla Wartner

"For not bunting, I think we did a good job. I've never seen a game like this before, with all the weird calls and situations, but I think we did a good job at staying with it."

"My start was a little rocky, but I just wanted to get on base, and once I did I got more confident. I tried to do what I could."


GAME 5 - Notre Dame 8, North Dakota State 4  (NDSU eliminated)

TUCSON--Notre Dame (40-15) put together a five-run sixth and eliminated North Dakota State with a 6-3### victory in the Tucson Regional of the NCAA Softball Championships, moving to the championship game Sunday against host Arizona.

The Bison ended their season 38-22 in their 11th NCAA appearance.

The Fighting Irish got on the board with two out in the top of the first with a solo home run by Amy Buntin, her 12th of the season.

NDSU's Amanda Grable hit an answering solo shot off Laura Winter (29-10) an inning later to make it 1-1 after two innings.

That's the way it stayed until the bottom of the fifth when the Bison scored a pair to snap the tie. Brandi Enriquez walked with one out, Jenina Ortega singled to left and after a second out, Jamie Gay doubled to the gap in left to plate both runners.

Notre Dame loaded the bases with one out in the sixth with hits by Buntin and Dani Miller and walk to Lauren Stuhr. Katey Haus singled to left to cut the lead to one run. A wild pitch by Krista Menke (25-13) brought in the tying run and Chloe Saganowich singled off the umpire's shin in the hole at second to drive in two. Jenna Simon then made it 6-3 with a single up the middle.

Notre Dame added a two-run single by Haus in the top of the seventh for the final Irish scoring. NDSU got a run-scoring double from Ortega in its half of the frame.


North Dakote State Head Coach Darren Mueller

"It was a long day, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse. They just started getting on us, but I can't fault the girls for the way they've played today. They really came out strong both games, and I'm proud of what they did both today and all season."

Notre Dame Head Coach Deanna Gumpf

"In the first five innings, I was a little worried, because we only had two hits, but everything just started to open up in the sixth and the girls started attacking the good pitches."

"The lack of errors made a huge different from the first game today. We let them take advantage of us in the first, and in the second we said that we weren't going to let that happen, so we didn't. Now we have to get ready for tomorrow."