May 28, 2010
TUCSON -- Arizona outlasted Brigham Young, 2-1, in a jittery game for 2,597 partisan Wildcat fans marked by nine baserunners left by the Cougars and Arizona scoring its final run of the NCAA Super Regional opener in its last half-inning.
UA's Kenzie Fowler (34-6) and Paige Affleck (32-9) combined to hold the opponents to six and seven hits, respectively. Fowler struck out 10, while Affleck struck out one. Fowler had a slight edge in the final frame.
Arizona (47-11) and BYU (46-12) will square off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in game two of the best-of-three Super Regional, with the Cougars the designated home team. A third game would follow 30 minutes afterward, if necessary. The winner of the series advances to the Women's College World Series next week in Oklahoma City, and will take on Tennessee in a first round matchup.
The Volunteers downed second-seeded Michigan in two games at the Ann Arbor, Mich., Super Regional to punch their ticket to the WCWS.
Arizona opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Lauren Schutzler and K'Lee Arredondo hit bunt singles, and Schutzler moved up on a fly ball by Stacie Chambers. Brigette Del Ponte hit a dying fly into the gap where leftfielder Cashjen Davis-Atagi and shortstop J.C. Clayton collided, with the ball bouncing free for an RBI double.
Clayton hit a one-out double in the BYU third to give BYU its third baserunner - after a UA error in the first and a single by Jessica Purcell-Fitu in the second - but the Cougars stranded those three. BYU left runners on base in each inning.
BYU threatened but came up empty in the fourth. Del Ponte committed her second throwing error to let Davis-Atagi reach with one out, Fowler hit Purcell-Fitu with a pitch and Delaney Willard singled to load the bases. Amanda Vance-Kellum hit into a 5-2 force play and Fowler struck out Jessica Dugas to strand three.
Lini Koria ripped a double down the right field line with one out in the UA half of the fourth, but UA had no further answer for Affleck's pitching. BYU got a one-out single by Clayton in the top of the fifth, but also couldn't get a key hit.
In BYU's sixth, the Cougars got their run with one hit. Alexandra Hudson led off with a walk, and was sacrificed to second by Purcell-Fitu. Pinch-runner Tiffany Messerschmidt scored on a single by Willard in a close play at home.
The Cats answered with the winning marker. Del Ponte hit a one-out double to put a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the frame, and Lini Koria singled up the middle to plate the go-ahead run at 2-1.
BYU's leadoff hitter, Kristin Delahoussaye, singled over shortstop Arredondo to start the Cougar seventh. But Arredondo got a force at second, Fowler struck out BYU slugger Angeline Quiocho for the third time in the game and Andrea Ramirez popped to second to end the game.
Notes... The crowd of 2,597 was Arizona's best in its history for hosting NCAA contests, slipping past the 2,570 on hand for a 2008 Super Regional against Oklahoma... Arizona is 11-3 in Super Regional contests since the format was adopted in 2005... The Cats are 9-2 in Super Regional games in Tucson... The victory was UA's fifth to open a Super Regional in six tries, with the loss at Stanford last year the lone opener UA didn't win... Arizona opened NCAA Championships play at 4-0 for the 16th time in its 24 NCAA apperances... Del Ponte hit her 76th RBI of the season, knocking Leah Braatz off the top of the list for freshman RBI in a season.
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Coaches Candrea and Eakin - Quick Take
BYU Coach Gordon Eakin: "It was a tough loss. I'm proud of competing in our first Super Regional. I mean, we held our own out there. Losing is losing, no matter who you lose to.We had several opportunities but we did not put the ball in play. I'm glad we have the chance to win tomorrow."
On pitcher's duel: "Great pitching leads to great hitting. I wouldn't have been surprised if the game was 16-15, let alone 2-1.
On the play in the 1st inning: "Arizona's player hit it to no man's land. We had trouble picking it up with the sun, so we didn't put the ball in play. Even when we had runners in scoring positions."
On Fowler: "She can be hurt, but she'll still be good. She's always good."
BYU Pitcher Paige Affleck: "We made adjustments today. Arizona's hitters are aggressive. They know what's a strike and what's not, so it was tough to deceive them."
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea: "This is a game that I expected. BYU is a good team. We were very fortunate, especially with three errors on the winning side. We were slow to make adjustments. That's the name of the game; adjusments. This was not a bad victory. A win is a win, we just need to play like it's our last."
On attendance: Today was well attended. We felt the lift towards the end. Attendance is huge for a win."
Key to the game: "Made adjustments. Be the aggressor. When we're good, we're aggressive."
On runs scored off of errors: "You can't plan for a game like that. We want to be solid. Many games are based on mistakes. Things happen, but it's not something you can prepare for. We dodged a bullet out there."
Arizona Pitcher Kenzie Fowler on BYU: "They're free swingers so I try not to keep it within their power. They have tremendous power, they swing hard."
"I prepared alot today in the training room and we were successful. I felt really comfortable today, so I plan on doing that again tomorrow."
Arizona DP Lini Koria on clutch hitting: "I just try to focus on doing my job and it happened to work in my favor this game."