May 22, 2010
TUCSON -- Kenzie Fowler tossed a one-hit, complete-game shutout and Arizona collected 12 hits to beat Hofstra, 6-0, Saturday afternoon to send the Wildcats to the Regional championship game Sunday in the Division I NCAA Softball Championships.
The Cats will play either Hofstra, Oklahoma State or Cornell -- the team that stays alive in the double-elimination tourney after the rest of Saturday's games. The loser's bracket team would have to beat Arizona twice on Sunday.
UA improved to 45-11 overall, while Hofstra dropped to 44-11 and will play the late game Saturday.
Fowler, a first-team All-Pac-10 and All-Pacific Region pick, improved to 33-6 on the year. Erin Wade (18-5) took the loss for the Pride.
The first couple of innings were mostly about defense, including work by third basemen Sara Michalowski of Hofstra and Brigette Del Ponte of Arizona, who both turned in a couple of snags on hard-hit ground balls, as did UA shortstop K'Lee Arredondo. Hofstra got its first hit in the second with a single by Sara Michalowski.
UA got its first hit with one out in the third and it got things going. Karissa Buchanan singled up the middle. Brittany Lastrapes then took a 2-2 offering and lifted it into the breeze sailing toward left for a two-run home run.
Lauren Schutzler and K'Lee Arredondo hit bunt singles and Stacie Chambers singled up the middle to load the bases, and then Del Ponte drew a walk to drive in a third run. An out later, a mishandled ground ball off Kristen Arriola's bat by Trisha Dreslinski allowed an unearned run to cross and leave Arizona leading 4-0.
Fowler pitched herself into a jam without allowing a hit in the bottom of the fourth. She walked Michele DePasquale, Michalowski reached on an error and Jess Hirschbul was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. But she struck out Becca Bigler and Trisha Dreslinski to end the threat.
Chambers powered a high fly off reliever Olivia Galati that had no chance of staying in the park in dead center, for a leadoff homer in UA's fifth to make it 5-0. Wind gusts in the area were up to 20 miles per hour.
The Cats added their final run in the sixth. UA loaded the bases with a single by Buchanan, a fielder's choice and hits by Schutzler and Arredondo. Chambers drew a walk to drive in a run. Galati struck out Del Ponte and got a grounder from Lini Koria to end the rally.
Hofstra Coach Bill Edwards on the game:
"We had that one big inning there where a couple things happened and they put up the big number. I thought we played well and that we got beat by the better team today. We got beat by the short ball today. When they can put down three absolutely perfect bunts, then you have to tip your hat to them. We gave it to them and they executed."
On HBP on Bigler:
"I didn't want to argue with that. I already had one (warning) against me and I could see myself walking home. We had our oppurtunity and didn't cash in and they had their opportunity and did. Hopefully, we see them again tomorrow."
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea on the game:
It was a good ball game for us for a lot of reasons. It was a crucial game for region play and an important game for us to win. It puts us in position to finish the job tomorrow. There's a lot you have to do to please me. But other than a few at-bats and defensive blunders, overall we did what we needed to do to win."
On Fowler going the distance:
"These games are going to dictate a lot. The big thing for us to go where we want to go, she's going to have to be the workhorse for us."
Kenzie Fowler - Arizona Freshman Pitcher
"I had some balls that I wasn't throwing right. I just needed to calm myself down. We had a lead, too, I didn't need to stress about that. I just needed to shut it down."
Brittany Lastrapes - Arizona Junior Outfielder
On home run:
"I felt like we needed to score. I just wanted to put the ball in play and get on base. I didn't really mean to hit a home run there."
Game 4 - Oklahoma State 7, Cornell 0
TUCSON -- Oklahoma State used two rallies to eliminate Ivy League champion Cornell, 7-0, and stay alive in Tucson Region play of the NCAA Softball Championships Saturday afternoon.
Anna Whiddon (22-9) scattered five hits in shutting down the Big Red, retiring the last 10 batters she faced. Cornell's Ali Tomlinson (3-4), the first of three Cornell pitchers, took the loss.
OSU (44-15) plays Hofstra next, with the winner of that game to face Arizona in the title game, or games, tomorrow. Either team has to beat the Wildcats on their home field twice on Sunday.
The Cowgirls took control in the third. Sam Heinlein's two-out two-run single gave Oklahoma State the lead, Megan Castle dropped a looping double behind the shortstop for another run, and then Chelsea Garcia knocked a two-run single.
OSU's Julie Ward and Heinlein had RBI singles in a two-run fourth to extend the lead.
Cornell finished its season at 37-15. "I can't say we're disappointed," said Cornell coach Dick Blood. "We played hard. I wish we would have played a little better, but obviously that wasn't the case. Overall, we were overmatched."
Game 5 - Hofstra 5, Oklahoma State 2
TUCSON -- Hofstra used a four-run fifth to eliminate Oklahoma State, 5-2, and stay alive in the Tucson Region of the NCAA Softball Championships at Hillenbrand Stadium here Saturday night.
The Pride will face off against 10th-seeded host Arizona (45-11) at noon MST/PDT Sunday.
OSU, which beat Cornell earlier in the evening, finished its season 44-16. Hofstra improved to 45-11. The match against Arizona for a regional title will be its second in the past three years after playing host to a 2008 regional at home in Hempstead, N.Y.
A hit batter cost Oklahoma State pitcher Kat Espinosa (19-6) in the second. Sara Michalowski was hit, moved up on a sac bunt by Michele DePasquale and scored on a double by Becca Bigler to post the first run of the game.
OSU tied the game with a double by Mariah Gearhart and an RBI single from Katelyn Bright in the top of the third, the first two hits off Hofstra's Olivia Galati (26-6). Alysia Hamilton added an infield hit to move Bright to third, but Galati got a ground ball to stop the rally.
A catcher's interference call helped OSU post the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth. With one out, Gearhart singled. Bright reached on the call against Hofstra's Laura Valentino and Hamilton picked up an RBI with single to center.
Hofstra came right back to regain the lead. Pinch-hitter Christie Novatin was hit by a pitch, sacrificed to second by Kris Root and reached third on a single by Galati. DePasquale doubled in both runnners and then Michalowski homered to left-center for a 5-2 lead. It chased OSU pitcher Kat Espinosa.
The Cowgirls put up a fight. Megan Castle hit a one-out single and Chelsea Garcia ripped a single down the line in right to put two aboard. A passed ball moved them both up. Pinch-hitter Taylor Marcum popped to second and Gearhart flied to left to stop the opportunity.
Hofstra Coach Bill Edwards:
"It's all momentum. You get it rolling and good things start to happen. Tonight we benefited from a bad hop (double by DePasquale) and that got it rolling. This team has phenomenal chemistry and everyone has each others' backs, and I have their backs."
OSU Coach Rich Wieligman:
"Regarding the bad hop, that's jst softball and it didn't go our way that time. I'm very proud of our kids for the season. Our expectations were to play on Sunday, but we just came up short."