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Cats Take NCAA Opener in Five, 11-0
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 05/18/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Arizona 11, North Dakota State Get Acrobat Reader
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Notre Dame 7, Hawai'i 3 (9) Get Acrobat Reader
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May 18, 2012

TUCSON--Region top-seed Arizona used a big inning to beat North Dakota State, 11-0, in first-round action of the NCAA Softball Championship regional Friday evening and move on in the Tucson winner's bracket.

The Cats made the most of five hits in the five-inning game, two of them by senior second baseman Kristen Arriola to drive in six runs.

UA (36-17) took a two-run lead in the bottom of the first without a hit. Leadoff hitter Karissa Buchanan was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a catcher's throwing error on the play. Brigette Del Ponte also was hit by a pitch and stole second, and then Lini Koria's sac bunt plated Buchanan. Shelby Pendley walked and then UA executed a double steal for another run. Both runs were unearned.

The Bison threatened with singles by Brea Konz and Alex Sobrero, and a ground ball to move both into scoring position in the top of the second but UA pitcher Shelby Babcock (20-9) struck out Jenina Ortega to halt the rally.  UA stranded two in the bottom of the inning as well.

North Dakota State (37-21) loaded the bases with one out on singles by Jamie Gay, Katie Tamayo and Cristina Borek in the top of the third. Babcock struck out Amanda Grable and got an infield ground ball to short to thwart another threat.

The Cats blew it open with a bases-loaded homer by Kristen Arriola in the third. Del Ponte led off with a triple off reliever Whitney Johnson, and scored on a fly ball by Perelini Koria, who reach on a dropped ball. Jessica Spigner and Chelsea Goodacre walked, and Arriola knocked her third grand slam and ninth home run of the year  to left center.

The Cats added four runs in their half of the fourth, again with minimal hitting. Del Ponte and Koria walked, Spigner was hit by a pitch and Goodacre's grounder was mishandled to allow Del Ponte to score and then Arriola drove in two more with a double to left-center field. Pinch-hitter Nicole Bryan walked and Buchanan singled in another run for the final UA scoring.

Arriola's six rbi matched a career high against UTEP in March 2009. The Arizona margin of victory was its sixth-largest out of 149 NCAA tournament victories.

North Dakota State's Krista Menke (24-12) took the loss in two innings, allowing just one hit. Babcock gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out six. 

Arizona advances to meet Notre Dame (39-14) in the winner's bracket game at 3 p.m. (MST/PDT) Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. North Dakota State will face Hawaii in the first elimination game, following 

POSTGAME QUOTES:

Mike Candrea:

"It was a good start. Going into today's game, I wanted to instill in their minds to be the aggressors. Our start really set the tone, and the grand slam gave us a good cushion."

"I know Shelby (Babcock) felt it was an honor to get the start, but I know she deserved it. She's really come into her own. She got herself out of a couple jams today that would have turned ugly last year. You can really see the growth."

"North Dakota State is a very good team, we just took them out, and that's really what you try to do. Tomorrow, we face Notre Dame, a good, balanced team with as much or even more speed than we do. I'm impressed with their start today. The middle of their lineup made a couple clutch plays, and they're battle tested. They didn't panic and played the game one pitch at a time.

Senior Kristen Arriola

"The win gives us a lot of momentum going into tomorrow's games. We have our heads screwed on right, and just have to continue playing behind our pitchers."

On the bases-loaded homer
"
I just had to stay calm and stick to my game plan. I'm never comfortable going up with the bases loaded, but I had to play for my team. As a senior, any game can be my last, and I just want to keep going."

Junior Brigette Del Ponte

"Shelby did a good job not walking the batters, and we took a lot of smart swings. It's not like they threw a lot of walks, but we fouled off the right pitches and got on base."

Sophomore Shelby Babcock

"I'm very honored to get the ball today. It gives me a lot of confidence. I know the biggest thing is limiting walking their batters, and it went well for me."

On the upcoming opponent
"Notre Dame is a quick and scrappy team. They're going to give us a good fight tomorrow."

North Dakota State Head Coach Darren Mueller:

"Arizona is a very talented team, and it didnt help that we kept getting their hitters on base with walks and hit by pitches. I'm certainly surprised that they managed to get more runs even though we out-hit them, but it's tough to get the lead when you keep putting people on base."

"We did some good things, but obviously not good enough. We just have to regroup for tomorrow and make some adjustments so we can give Hawaii a good game."

Senior Brea Konz

"It's a different playing surface out here, harder, and the ball takes a bigger bounce, but that isn't why I made my error. It's not the surface that caused our defense to fail."

"We have another opportunity tomorrow to come back out and make some adjustments. It's a new game and we just have to make some correstions and take it one pitch at a time."

***

Game 1 - Notre Dame 7, Hawaii 3                                

TUCSON--Freshman Emilee Koerner drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, and Katey Haus followed with a two-run home run to pace Notre Dame to an upset over No. 13-ranked Hawaii, 7-3, in first-round NCAA Softball Championships regional action Friday. 

Laura Winter (28-9) went the distance for the Irish (39-14), scattering seven hits although three were Wahine home runs. 

Notre Dame leadoff batter Alexa Maldonado clouted a 2-0 pitch over the fence in right-center to start the game, her seventh home run of the year, to open the scoring. 

Hawaii (44-8) stranded three runners in the bottom of the inning after an error, walk and fielder's choice loaded the bases with two outs. Winter struck out Leisha Li'ili'i to end the threat. 

Hawaii's Kelly Majam answered with a towering shot off the scoreboard beyond right field in the bottom of the third to knot the score. Leisha Li'ili'i socked a leadoff home in the next frame to put the Rainbow Wahine on top, 2-1.

The Irish came right back with hits by Jenna Simon and Kelsey Thornton with one out in the top of the fifth. UH pitcher Stephanie Ricketts (27-10) got a pop out, but Dani Miller knocked in two runs with a double past centerfielder Majam to put Notre Dame back on top, 3-2.

Majam pulled one to left-center for her 15th homer to tie the game in the bottomof the fifth.

Notre Dame had a runner thrown out at the plate in the top of the seventh. Miller singled to right and advanced to second on an error by fielder Sharla Kliebenstein, but was gunned down by  trying to score on a single by Emilee Koerner.

Notre Dame advances in the winner's bracket to play the victor of Friday's North Dakota State-Arizona game at 3 p.m. local time Saturday.   Hawaii will play that game's loser in the first elimination game following at 5:30 p.m.

Postgame Quotes

Game 1 - Notre Dame (visitor) vs. Hawaii (home)

Notre Dame Head Coach Deanna Gumpf:

On the 9th inning...

"We just took the 9th inning one pitch at a time and we didn't take anything for granted. We were just focusing on hitting the ball and keeping the rally going. I feel like Laura stuck to that plan all game."

On the team's mindset...

"Coming into this game, all we cared about was Hawai'i. Now that it's over, we are just worrying about the next game tomorrow. We're just going to take it one pitch and one inning at a time and just play Notre Dame softball and we'll be just fine."

Sophomore Pitcher Laura Winter:

On her performance...

"I felt great all day. I knew that if I could keep my composure, my team would figure out how to score some runs for us, and they did."

Freshman Infielder Katey Haus:

On the home run in the 9th inning...  "I was just looking to get a base hit there. All I wanted was to get on base. The ball felt good coming off the bat and it just left the yard. It felt so good."

HAWAII

Hawaii Head Coach Bob Coolen:

"It was a good game until that last inning. We gave them a lot of opportunities early, but we played good defense to stay in it. Kelly Majam was our whole offense today, no one else really stepped up when we needed them to."

"Errors are very frustrating, and it seems be the story of how we ended the WAC Tournament, and we don't want to end this event on the same note. It puts a lot of pressure on our pitcher, and when that happens, mistakes happen. Right now we have to clean things up, and depend on Kaia (Parnaby) for the next game.

Junior Center Fielder Kelly Majam:

"Lots of losing teams have come through the losing bracket. It's difficult, but if they can do it, then so can we. We have a lot of experienced players, and we all know how to get it done."

"Hitting well gives a lot of confidence, and that goes a long way. I'm thankful that I did so well today, but it doesn't mean much because we didn't get the win."

 

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