OKLAHOMA CITY ?- For the 12th time in the last 17 years Arizona will be playing on the final day of the softball calendar, as the seven-time national champion Wildcats earned a date with fellow WCWS finalist Tennessee after taking two games from Washington on Sunday to advance.
Arizona will enter the best-of-three championship series with a 48-13-1 record, while Washington’s 2007 campaign will end at 42-19.
The Wildcats have ridden the arm Taryne Mowatt (40-11) throughout the postseason, and the junior All-American has been nothing less than stellar. Mowatt has allowed just one earned run in 36 WCWS innings, which translates to a 0.19 ERA.
Washington’s Danielle Lawrie (31-13) took the loss after getting touched up for four runs on eight hits in five innings of work. UW reliever Caitlin Noble surrendered four runs on as many hits over the final two innings.
Arizona’s offense tallied 12 hits after mustering only three base knocks in the first game. UA was led by Chelsie Mesa (3-for-4, 3 runs, 2 RBI) and Jenae Leles (2-for-2, 4 RBI) in a game that seven Wildcats registered at least one hit.
Arizona jumped on Lawrie for two runs in the first. Caitlin Lowe and Chelsie Mesa got UA off to a fast start with a pair of singles to lead off the frame. One out later, Jenae Leles lined a two-run double down the left field line to plate the seniors.
This afternoon’s hero, Sam Banister, came through again with an RBI hit in the third inning. Kristie Fox started things off with a one-out single to right and moved up to second on a Leles walk. One out later, Banister singled to right to plate Fox for UA’s third run of the contest.
Washington broke up Mowatt’s shot at a shutout with one run on three hits in the bottom of the fourth. The run was the first earned run Mowatt had allowed in 32.2 innings pitched at the 2007 WCWS.
UA responded with a run of its own in the top of the fifth to increase its lead back to a 4-1 margin. Mesa led off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. A Fox base knock put runners at the corners, before Leles hit a sac fly to left to bring Mesa home.
Arizona left no doubt when it scored four additional runs in the sixth. Callista Balko, K’Lee Arredondo and Adrienne Acton loaded the bases with a walk, single and UW error, respectively. Following a Lowe fly out, Mesa doubled pinch runner Duran and Arredondo home. Next, Mesa plated Acton with a sac fly. Leles kept the hits coming with an RBI single to plate Mesa. The ribbie was Leles’ fourth of the game, which tied a season high.
- Arizona improves to 55-3 all-time in WCWS games in which it scores at least one run.
- Arizona reaches its 12th title game since 1991.
- With tonight’s win, Taryne Mowatt became the 20th player in NCAA history to have tallied 40 victories or more in a single season.
- Washington’s fourth-inning run snapped a streak of 32.2 WCWS innings in which Mowatt did not allow an earned run.
Up Next: Arizona reaches the Championship Series, where the Wildcats will meet Tennessee for a best-of-three game series for the 2007 national title. The series will begin on Monday at 7 p.m. (CDT) with Games 2 and 3 slated for 7 p.m. (CDT) on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. All games will be televised live on ESPN2 HD.
The Wildcats and Lady Vols are familiar adversaries, as the two squads have faced one another four times in WCWS play over the last three years.
Arizona will attempt to win back-to-back NCAA championships for the third time in program history.