May 23, 2009
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Unheralded pitcher Lindsey Sisk came up with a career performance to help lead Arizona to a 6-5 victory over host Stanford in NCAA Softball Super Regional action Friday night and send Arizona to a 21st Women's College World Series appearance.
Sisk (13-4) entered in relief of starter Sarah Akamine in the first inning and struck out 14 the rest of the way to hold back the Cardinal, who had beaten UA Thursday in Game 1 of the Super Regional.
It gave the Cats a doubleheader sweep at the most crucial of times after UA won Game 2 by a score of 7-3 to force the deciding contest in the best-of-three series.
The victory, in Game 3 of the Super Regional, sends Arizona back on the road to Oklahoma City next week for its 21st trip in 22 years, this one improbably accomplished as the lower seed in Palo Alto (9th) behind the host team's No. 8 seeding.
The Wildcats, eight-time national champions under head coach Mike Candrea, will face the winner of a Super Regional which begins tomorrow in Gainesville, Fla., between No. 1 Florida and California in first-round WCWS action.
Brittany Lastrapes hit another leadoff single to start a three-run Arizona first. But after two quick outs, Stacie Chambers walked, then Sam Banister sent the full count pitch over the left field wall for her 16th home run and a quick three-spot for the Cats. It was the ninth time this season that Banister homered after a walk to Chambers, with four of those being of the intentional variety.
Alissa Haber countered for Stanford (48-11) with a leadoff double. Ashley Hansen then reached on a booted ball by third baseman Jenae Leles, they both moved up on a wild pitch, then Shannon Koplitz drove them in with a single up the middle. After Maddy Coon singled, Akamine - who didn't record an out - was lifted in favor of Sisk. The sophomore recorded a sacrifice out, and struck out both Rosey Neill and Maya Burns to keep the Arizona advantage, 3-2.
Lauren Schutzler was thrown out trying to reach second on a bloop single in the Arizona second. The native of nearby Monterey, Calif. ran through first base and tried to catch the Cardinal off-guard, but left fielder Haber's throw was right on the money to Coon at second. Karissa Buchanan reached on an infield single and a close call at first, but Lastrapes grounded out and K'Lee Arredondo popped up to end the threat.
Sisk allowed two singles in the Stanford second, but recorded three straight strikeouts to keep the runners stranded.
Jenae Leles took the first pitch of the third inning to right centerfield for a solo shot, giving Arizona a 4-2 lead. It was the first homer for the senior since May 3, when she tallied the only UA hit in a 2-1 loss at the same ballpark.
Neill tallied a two-out double in the Stanford half, then Sisk hit Maya Burns to put two on. But the sophomore hurler forced Jenna Becerra into a foul popup to leave two more Cardinal stranded.
Victoria Kemp waited on a 1-2 changeup and drove it to right center for a leadoff single. Schutzler sacrificed her into scoring position, but Buchanan struck out and Lastrapes popped out to end the half.
Leles floated a one-out single into shallow right field in the fifth, but two consecutive fielder's choice outs left another Arizona (46-15) runner stranded.
Stanford put two on with no outs in the fifth, after Koplitz drew a walk and Coon was hit on the wrist by a pitch. But Sisk rang up three consecutive Cardinal batters on strikes, surpassing her previous career-high of seven strikeouts.
Arizona plated two runs of insurance in the sixth. Lini Koria drew a leadoff walk, then Kemp laid down a sac bunt to move her to second. The speedy Schutzler then reached on an infield single. After a strikeout, Lastrapes hit a bloop single into right center which centerfielder Sarah Hassman bobbled, allowing Malina and Schutzler to score and bring the UA margin to 6-2.
Becerra walked in the Stanford sixth, then found herself on third with two outs after two wild pitches. Hansen hit a full count pitch off of Leles at third, tallying Sisk's first run given up in the game and cutting the deficit in half. Coon then ripped a liner into right center that Buchanan misplayed, allowing two runs to score and bringing the UA lead to one. But Sisk struck out Melisa Koutz with Coon on third after a 10-pitch at-bat.
Sisk struck out the side in the seventh to preserve the Wildcat victory.