May 23, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY--No. 2 Arizona and No. 7 Nebraska each managed only three hits, but one of Arizona's was a home run by Leneah Manuma and it proved to be the edge in a 1-0 first-round Women's College World Series victory over the Cornhuskers, 1-0, Thursday night.
UA's Jennie Finch , who was named a first-team All-American for the third consecutive year Wednesday night, struck out nine and pitched out of a couple of jams to earn her 20th shutout of the year and improve to 32-5.
The Cats, 53-11 overall, will meet in-state rival Arizona State in WCWS winner's bracket Game 6 at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The Sun Devils beat Michigan 2-1 in an earlier game to set up the match between fellow Pac-10 schools.
Finch struck out the side in the first but gave up a hit to James in the second. James set down the first six Arizona hitters in order before Arizona put a runner aboard.
Jenny Gladding walked to open the Arizona thirdirst base runner, then James hit Meaghan Finnerty with a pitch to move pinch-runner Crystal Farley into scoring position. But James struck out Lisha Ribellia, Lovie Jung and Courtney Fossatti to end the threat.
Nebraska put together its first threat with its second hit in the fourth. Finch walked Amanda Buchholz and gave up a single to Nicole Tromboli, then Amber Burgess moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. But Finch struck out James and got Leigh Suhr to pop out to second base.
One staple of Arizona's 2002 season gave the Wildcats the first hit off James in the fourth -- and gave UA the lead for good. With one out, lefty Manuma slugged a towering home run to right field for the only scoring of the game. It was Arizona's nation-best 91st home run of the season and Manuma's 21st, also best in Division I.
Arizona's bid for an insurance run came up short in the sixth. Fossatti singled to lead off the Wildcats sixth, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Finch. But James intentionally walked Manuma, struck out Mackenzie Vandergeest and got Jackie Coburn to foul out to first base to end the inning.
Burgess led off the Cornhusker seventh with a hard single off third baseman Coburn's glove, but Finch got James to foul out on a bunt attempt and UA shortstop Jung forced the runner at second on Leigh Suhr's ground ball for the second out. Suhr stole second but Finch struck out Lawrick to end the game.
Finch improved her three-year College World Series pitching record to 5-1, plus lowered her earned run average in the classic to 1.78 in the six starts and 39 and one-third innings pitched. She has 42 strikeouts. Manuma's home run was her first in 10 at-bats at the Series including last year's four UA games.
Nebraska was shut out for only the fourth time this season. The Huskers will face Michigan at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Game 8 of the series.