FULLERTON, Calif. ?- The No. 1 Arizona softball team defeated No. 21 Fresno State, 9-0, to advance to the Kia Klassic Championship on Sunday, but fell in the final to fifth-ranked Michigan, 6-2.
In the semifinal versus Fresno State, junior pitcher Alicia Hollowell got her eighth no-hitter of the season in the Cats’ five-inning shutout. Hollowell fanned nine hitters in the near-perfect performance.
Arizona scored its first five runs in the top of the third inning. With one out, Autumn Champion singled to short and Kristie Fox followed with a single up the middle. Both runners advanced on a double steal, and Champion scored on a throwing error by Fresno State catcher Nichole Willis. With one on, senior Jackie Coburn went yard to center field to give the Cats a 3-0 advantage, her fifth homer of the year. Shelly Schultz followed with a single up the middle and reached second on a wild pitch. Senior Jen Martinez reached on a fielder’s choice, and Schultz scored on another Bulldogs error. Courtney Fossatti singled, and Crystal Farley and Allyson Von Liechtenstein walked to drive in pinch runner Adrienne Acton and give Arizona a five-run edge.
Coburn led the Cats’ offense against Fresno state, going 2-for-4 with a run and four RBI. Coburn is second behind Fox in season RBIs with 21. Martinez went 3-for-4 in the game, with two RBI.
In Arizona’s 6-2 loss to Michigan in the championship game, freshman pitcher Taryne Mowatt got the start and was relieved by Hollowell after 3.1 innings. Mowatt got the loss for the Cats, giving up four runs on four hits and striking out two. Hollowell pitched the remaining 3.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out six.
Michigan got out to a three-run lead in the top of the second. With two on and two out, Michigan right fielder Stephanie Bercaw hit a three-run homer to left field. In the fourth inning, Michigan third baseman Grace Leutele hit a solo home run to center to gain a 4-0 advantage over Arizona.
The Cats retaliated in the bottom of the fifth, when with one out, Champion singled. Coburn doubled to right center, scoring Champion to put Arizona on the board. With Acton pinch-running for Coburn, Schultz singled to center, scoring Acton and giving Arizona a pair of runs.
With Hollowell on the mound for Arizona in the sixth, Michigan put another pair of runs up. Michigan designated hitter Nicole Motycha singled and scored on an error and a wild pitch. With one on and one out, Bercaw singled to center, scoring Leutele from third and giving Michigan its final advantage of 6-2.
The loss puts Arizona’s record at 24-2 and Mowatt’s record at 7-1. Arizona’s next outing is at Louisiana-Lafayette from March 25-27. The series marks the first time the Cats will play Louisiana-Lafayette since being shut out, 5-0, by the Ragin’ Cajuns in last season’s NCAA Regional in Tucson on May 22.