STANFORD, Calif. ?- The No. 2 Arizona softball team (39-10, 13-8) ended its regular season with a bang, sweeping the season series over No. 5 Stanford (40-14, 13-8) with a 3-2 win at Smith Family Stadium on Saturday. Once again, Caitlin Lowe provided the offense with a two-run homer, as well as the game-winning run.
Arizona entered the final day of play in fourth place in the Pac-10, behind Oregon State, Stanford, and California. All three top teams lost, providing UA a share of the league championship.
Leslie Wolfe (4-2) threw six shutout innings before getting touched up for two runs in the seventh. Yesterday’s winner Alicia Hollowell came in to put out the fire for her third save on the season.
The win did not come easy, however, as Stanford had the winning run on base with just one out in the seventh. UA led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh when Stanford right fielder Heather Sickler doubled to left-center to lead off the game’s final frame. Tricia Aggabao followed that up with an RBI single to center for Stanford’s first run in the series.
At that point, Coach Mike Candrea called on his ace Hollowell to close the game out. After striking out a pinch hitter, leadoff hitter Catalina Morris doubled to center field, bringing Aggabao to third base. With one out and the tying run on second, Hollowell issued Lauren Lappin an intentional pass to load the bases. Hollowell then induced Cardinal third baseman Michelle Smith into popping up to first baseman Crystal Farley for the second out. Needing just one out to close up shop, Hollowell let loose her 21st wild pitch of the year, moving all runners up a base. With the game-winning run now in scoring position, Hollowell sent Cardinal clean-up hitter Jackie Rinehart down swinging to end the threat.
Arizona scored its first runs in the third inning during a two-out rally. With two gone, Allyson Von Liechtenstein sent her second double of the year down the left field line to ignite the rally. Lowe came up next, smacking her third homer of the year to right field, giving the Wildcats an early 2-0 lead.
UA padded the lead in the sixth with much of the same cast that was responsible for Arizona’s first runs. Von Liechtenstein and Lowe both singled, prior to an Autumn Champion pop up and a Kristie Fox fielder’s choice. With Lowe on second base and two out, Jackie Coburn came through with a single, bringing Lowe around to score. The Coburn-Lowe combination was the same one that scored the only run in last night’s contest.
With the regular season wrapping up today, the waiting game to see who goes where for NCAA regional action begins. The field of 64 teams for the 2005 NCAA Division I Softball Championship will be announced live between 4:30 and 5 p.m. (MST) Sunday, May 15, on ESPNews, which is on DirecTV channel 207 and Dish Network channel 142. The regional pairings and sites will be announced. In addition, the ESPNews audio signal is available on the ESPNews channel on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio.