OKLAHOMA CITY ?- In an elimination game that that saw 30 of the 84 batters to come up strikeout, the game ended appropriately with a strikeout. Texas’ unearned run in the top of the 11th proved to be the difference in the 1-0 ballgame, ending Arizona’s season in the 23rd inning the Wildcats had played in just over 24 hours.
The game was dominated by pitching on both sides. Texas starter Cat Osterman (30-7) threw all 11 innings, giving up four hits, while striking out 19 Wildcats. UA started Leslie Wolfe, was lifted in the second inning, as Coach Mike Candrea brought Alicia Hollowell (31-9) into the circle.
Hollowell dominated, pitching 9 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and no earned runs, while striking out 11 Longhorns.
With the top of their order up in the 11th, the Longhorns got started when MicKayla Padilla led off with a walk, making it the third out of four extra-inning leadoff batters to reach for UT. Following Tina Boutelle’s fly out to left, Chez Sievers singled to left, placing runners at first and second.
With Desiree Williams at the plate, Texas broke the scoreless tie. Williams singled to right, where UA right fielder Allyson Von Liechtenstein came up gunning toward the plate, where Padilla was headed. Von Liechtenstein’s throw had Padilla beaten so badly that the Longhorn put on the brakes, and retreated to third. Wildcat catcher Jackie Coburn threw to third baseman Shelly Schultz, whose return throw bounced off of Padilla’s helmet, allowing Texas to score.
The damage could have been worse, but Sievers was cut down at the plate on a fielder’s choice, and Wynter Turner struck out.
Arizona had its chances in extras, including in the 11th, when Caitlin Lowe led off with an infield single, before Autumn Champion put down her 13th sac hit of the year, moving the tying run to second base. The potential game-winning run got on base, when Kristie Fox followed with a 3-2 walk. Jackie Coburn then drew her team-leading 31st walk of the year to load the bases with just one out.
Shelly Schultz’s fly out to right was not deep enough to score Lowe, setting the stage for Jennifer Martinez. Martinez battled Osterman, but went down swinging, ending the game and season.
The Wildcats had runners on once again in the 10th, as Osterman gave up an uncharacteristic three consecutive walks. Pinch runner Adrienne Acton was thrown out stealing, while running for Jennifer Martinez. With two outs, Callista Balko and Crystal Farley got on base via four balls, and pinch hitter Candace Abrams struck out, ending the rally
Arizona had the top of its order coming up in the bottom of the ninth, setting the stage for a big finish. Player of the Year finalist Caitlin Lowe started the inning off with a single up the middle. Autumn Champion struck out swinging, Kristie Fox grounded out, and Jackie Coburn went down swinging, sending the game into the 10th.
The Longhorn offense threatened once again in the ninth, when Chez Sievers led off with a single to right. Texas Head Coach Connie Clark elected to have her cleanup hitter Desiree Williams sacrifice Sievers to second base. For the second consecutive inning, Hollowell emphatically ended the rally with a swinging strikeout of Wynter Turner.
The good news for Arizona at the start of extra innings was that Hollowell struck out Jacqueline Williams. The bad news for the Cats: Hollowell hurled her 24th wild pitch of the season, allowing Williams to reach on a drop-third strike.
Texas’ Clark reached into her bench, having Rachel Cook pinch run for Williams, and Melanie Jarrett pinch hit for Alexis Garcia. Jarrett sacrificed Cook to second base, setting the stage for late-inning heroics.
Once again, those late-inning heroics came in the form of Alicia Hollowell’s right arm. Pinch-hitter Jaclyn Daniels struck out swinging, and Tina Boutelle lined to first, ending the threat.
Arizona had its first runner in scoring position with two outs in the sixth inning, when Autumn Champion singled up the middle, before stealing second base. Champion’s steal was just her second swiped bag since May 7. Osterman battled Kristie Fox, punching out the Wildcat shortstop for her 11th strikeout of the game.
After going down in order in the first, Texas’ Desiree Williams drew a leadoff walk to start up the second inning. Following a fly out to center, Wynter Turner singled to center, knocking UA starter Leslie Wolfe out of the game, in lieu of Alicia Hollowell.
Hollowell put out the fire, inducing Amber Hall into popping to third, and Jacqueline Williams struck out swinging.
In the bottom half of the third, Caitlin Lowe singled up the middle with two outs. Autumn Champion’s strikeout stranded Lowe, but the centerfielder’s single was the first hit for any Wildcat lefty hitter in 17 at-bats against Osterman this year.
Arizona ends its season with a record of 45-12, while making its 17th Women’s College World Series appearance in the last 18 years. The Wildcats were co-Pacific-10 Champions.
- The Wildcats have committed 10 errors in eight postseason games, after having 28 blunders in 49 regular season games.
- Arizona’s pitchers surrendered just 1 earned run in 64 innings in postseason play.
- UA and Texas have combined to play 21 innings with 0 total earned runs being scored.
- Arizona dropped to 4-2 in extra-inning games this year.
- This is the first time Arizona played back-to-back extra-inning games this year.
- This is the first time since 1993 that Arizona has not won 50 games in a season
- Jackie Coburn, Allyson Von Liechtenstein, Courtney Fossatti, and Crystal Farley leave Arizona as the first four-year players not to win a national championship since 1987.