OKLAHOMA CITY ?- Arizona senior shortstop Kristie Fox had already singled, doubled, scored a run and saved another with her glove when she stepped up to the plate to lead off the ninth inning of the Wildcats’ Women’s College World Series opener against Baylor. Then, she hit a walk-off home run to give Arizona a 2-1, extra-inning win to open WCWS play in the NCAA Division I Softball Championships.
The San Diego, Calif., native saved her best for last with her 15th home run of the year and 11th game-winning hit of 2007. The round-tripper came nearly a year to the day after Fox singled home Caitlin Lowe in the ninth inning of UA’s 2006 WCWS-opening victory over Oregon State.
As good as Fox was, Arizona pitcher Taryne Mowatt (37-10) baffled the Baylor hitters and allowed no earned runs on two hits in nine innings of work. Additionally, the 2007 NFCA All-American tied a season-high with 15 strikeouts in her 43rd complete game of the year.
With the win, Arizona improves to 45-12-1 on the year and will face fifth-seeded Tennessee at 8 p.m. (CDT) on Friday. The Lady Vols are coming off a 2-0 win over Texas A&M, in which, Monica Abbott hurled her 23rd career no-hitter.
The loss drops Baylor to 50-15 and pits the Lady Bears against fellow Big 12 squad Texas A&M for a Saturday date.
Baylor pitcher Lisa Ferguson (25-8) allowed two runs on six hits in eight-plus innings.
Baylor threatened to score in the top of the second by getting a pair of Lady Bear runners on with no outs. Mowatt struck out BU catcher Chelsi Lake to leadoff the frame, but a passed ball allowed her to reach first. An illegal pitch and a base on balls later, Baylor had runners at first and second with no outs. However, Mowatt went on to strike out the next two hitters and get the third to ground into a fielder’s choice.
The Wildcats broke the game’s scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth with one run on two hits. Kristie Fox led off with a double ?- her second hit of the contest. Jenae Leles followed with a single up the middle to put runners on the corners for the Cats. A Callista Balko groundout moved Leles to second, but kept Fox 60 feet from scoring.
The very next pitch Laine Roth hit a similar groundball to short, but this time Fox broke on contact to score without a throw.
The very next inning, Baylor tied the game on two walks, a bunt single and a pair of passed balls. Kirsten Shortridge reached base with a bunt single and Brette Reagan followed by getting on with a fielder’s choice. A passed ball with Lake at the plate allowed the two Lady Bear runners to move into scoring position. During the same at-bat, a second passed ball allowed Shortridge to score. However, video replays appeared to show that Lake had fouled the ball off ?- hindering Balko’s ability to handle the ball. Despite UA head coach Mike Candrea’s apparent justified complaints over the call, the run stood with the game tied 1-1.
- A WCWS-record crowd of 6,812 watched the day’s second session.
- Arizona improved to 2-1-1 in extra-inning games this year.
- Arizona is now 52-3 all-time in WCWS games in which it scores at least one run.
Up Next: Arizona will take on fifth-seeded Tennessee on Friday at 8 p.m. (CDT) in the winner’s bracket. The game will be televised live to a national audience on ESPN HD.