The Red Foxes (33-12) hung tough with the second-seeded Wildcats, but UA proved to be too much for the MAAC champs.
Alicia Hollowell (24-4) tossed her 15th shutout of the season, allowing two hits and striking out 12 Marist hitters in six innings of work.
The Wildcats tallied 13 hits, including a pair of home runs and doubles, in their 11th consecutive victory. Five UA hitters had multi-hit games, including Adrienne Acton’s first career three-hit game.
UA would not be denied in the second inning, as the Wildcats rapped out two runs on two hits. Jenae Leles led the inning off with a hit-by-pitch and moved to second on Chelsie Mesa’s bunt single. Taryne Mowatt followed with a line drive down the right field line, snagged by Jessica Green for the out, but Leles would advance to third. With runners on the corners, Laine Roth drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single. Adrienne Acton would add a single lead the bases, before
Callista Balko hit a one-out double in the third, and was pinch run for by Kelly Nelson to ignite another UA rally in the UA half of the third. Leles followed with a single of her own to trade places with Nelson for the Wildcats’ third run of the game.
After Hollowell retired the first nine Red Fox batters in order, Chrystine McHugh broke up the perfect game with a one-out double in the fourth inning.
UA kept the runs coming in the sixth inning, as the Wildcats scored five runs to win in walk-off fashion. Laine Roth led off with an infield single and moved to second on
Callista Balko then stepped to the plate and cracked a three-run homer, her 12th of the year and sixth in 11 games to left-center field to bring the game to a run-rule finish.
- This was Marist’s first NCAA Tournament game in program history
- Kristie Fox and Adrienne Acton extended their team-high five-game hit streaks
- Attendance was 1,357
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea: "Obviously, we put a lot of importance on the first game. The worst part is trying to keep your team from looking past the first game. That is why we put our best (Alicia Hollowell) on the mound. Your kids have to know that and I think we played well. My hat is off to Marist. I was very impressed with them. They deserve to be here."
"It's good to get the first one under our belt. We've been through the Pac-10 schedule and this is no different, but at the same time it is different. We have to keep the same approach."
Arizona P Alicia Hollowell:
"I felt pretty good for the most part. There are some things I can get better at before the next game."
On getting the nod to start the first game: "I knew I was going to start. Coach always tells us not to play the 'name game'. We expect to come out firing on all cylinders no matter who the opponent is"
Arizona C Callista Balko:
On two walk-off home-runs in one week: "I don't think anyone can ever get tired of hitting them. I knew I wad due after my first few at-bats."
"I didn't have the right approach in my first few at-bats. In the last at-bat, I came up more aggresive and ready to hit."
Marist Coach Melissa Tucci: "It was a tough field to play on, and definitely hard to adjust to. I think our girls came out swinging today, but more practice against pitching like that would have helped."
"Alicia (Hollowell) did a good job putting the ball where she wanted to. I think we have a good shot against Auburn tomorrow. We just need to take it one game at a time."
Marist shortstop Katie Eskin: "The ball gets on you pretty fast. It really jumps around. We were really excited to play today, especially since it was against a team like Arizona."
Live Stats on Game Watcher for all Tucson games - HERE
NCAA Division I Softball Championships - Region 2 Schedule Day Time Game Other Thursday 4 p.m. 1 - Ohio State 1, Auburn 0 6:30 p.m. 2 - Arizona 9, Marist 0 Friday 1:30 p.m. 3 ?- Ohio State vs. Arizona 4 p.m. 4 ?- Auburn vs. Marist 6:30 p.m. 5 ?- Winner 4 vs. Loser 3 Saturday 3 p.m. 6 ?- Winner 3 vs. Winner 5 ESPN2 5 p.m. 7 ?- Winner 6 vs. Loser 6 If necessary (each has a loss) ESPN2
NCAA Division I Softball Championships - Region 2 Schedule
1 - Ohio State 1, Auburn 0
2 - Arizona 9, Marist 0
3 ?- Ohio State vs. Arizona
4 ?- Auburn vs. Marist
5 ?- Winner 4 vs. Loser 3
6 ?- Winner 3 vs. Winner 5
7 ?- Winner 6 vs. Loser 6
If necessary (each has a loss)