TUCSON, Ariz.--Jackie Coburn took a 1-2 pitch and drove an opposite-field home run to right in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Arizona (42-10) a 2-1 victory over Oklahoma State (35-24) and the NCAA Region 3 championship at Hillenbrand Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The victory put No. 3 seed Arizona into a Super Regional next week at Hillenbrand against No. 14 seed Oklahoma, winners of the Region 14 tournament in Norman, Friday and Saturday, May 28-29.
Coburn, who had two sacrifice bunts and a walk in earlier at-bats, got a chance to swing away when OSU pitcher Jessica Hoppock got Kristie Fox to lead off the inning with a fly out.
Hoppock threw all 32 innings played by the Cowgirls in the tournament and recorded a 2-2 record. The homer gave UA's Alicia Hollowell her 29th victory, in relief. She beat OSU in seven innings on Saturday to put UA into the championship round.
Oklahoma State played a shallow outfield for UA leadoff batter Caitlin Lowe in the bottom of the third, and swinging away to take advantage, Lowe drove a pitch from Jessica Hoppock over the fence in right center to give UA a 1-0 lead.
OSU tied it with an unearned run in the fourth, although Arizona made a nice defensive play to thwart a bigger rally. With one out, Courtney Totte singled and Dominique Van Nortwick reached on a throwing error by UA shortstop Kristie Fox that allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Megan Carry laid down a squeeze bunt try, but UA pitcher Leslie Wolfe flipped the ball to catcher Jackie Coburn and she blocked the plate to get a tag on Totte. Tara Jeffery followed with an RBI single.
UA coach Mike Candrea went to the bullpen and his ace starter Alicia Hollowell after Wolfe gave up a one-out single to Lacy Darity and walked Stephanie Nicholson in the fifth, and Hollowell got a ground ball to end the inning.
Callista Balko led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left, and pinch runner Courtney Nix moved to second on pinch hitter Courtney Fossatti's sacrific bunt. Hoppock struck out pinch hitter Jennifer Martinez and then pitched around Lowe, walking her, and ended the threat getting Autumn Champion to ground out to third.
Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea
"Leslie [Wolfe] threw great game for us and I thought she gave us a great performance while she was in there. Offensively, we had some opportunities but were unable to get that key hit like we did the last couple days. But, we found a way to win and we'll take it. That's what it takes this time of year. Hopefully a win like this will teach these kids to be more emotional about the game."
Arizona Junior Alicia Hollowell
"It was a big win for us. We weren't swinging the bats well, but Jackie [Coburn] stepped up for us in that last at-bat. Leslie [Wolfe] threw well and I was rested when I came in."
Arizona Senior Jackie Coburn
"We're going to come out next week ready to go. This was a big step for us. I think you'll see some of the best softball of the season here next weekend. We owe a lot to the fans here in Tucson for what happened last year, and we weren't going to let it happen again. We have to keep winning."
Oklahoma State Head Coach Margaret Rebenar
"It was a dog fight all day, basically. I'm proud of our girls and what they did here. Jessica [Hoppock] stepped up big for us all weekend and did a fantastic job. I'm super proud of all of them."
Oklahoma State Senior Megan Carey
"We were the same team today as we were yesterday. We knew we could compete with them. Jessica [Hoppock] did a great job for us and kept us in the game. We are really good at coming from behind, and we had a chance today. That's all you can ask for."