June 6, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Five Wildcats tallied two hits, and K'Lee Arredondo and Stacie Chambers each hit a two-run home run as Arizona eliminated Tennessee in the second game of a doubleheader and advanced to the championship series of the Women's College World Series.
Arizona improved to 52-12 on the season, and will now face UCLA in a best-of-three series beginning Monday at 7 p.m. CT (5 p.m. Tucson time).
Kenzie Fowler (38-7) had another strong outing, scattering six hits and striking out eight. Fellow freshman Ivy Renfroe (31-6) allowed five runs on 12 hits.
Tennessee drew first blood. Raven Chavenne led off the game with a single off Brigette Del Ponte's glove at third base, then stole second. After two quick outs, two walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases. Lauren Gibson drew a walk to bring home Chavenne and open the scoring, but Fowler got Tuffany Huff down on strikes to end the half.
For the third time, Brittany Lastrapes opened Arizona's at-bats against Tennessee with a double, then moved to third on a Lauren Schutzler infield single. But a groundout and two strikeouts stranded the runners in scoring position.
In the Tennessee (49-15) second, Melissa Brown walked to lead off, then moved to second on an illegal pitch. Ashley Andrews put a ball deep into the gap in left center that Lastrapes caught in spectacular fashion, then Lastrapes doubled up Brown - who had already headed for home - at second. Chavenne doubled and Fowler issued another walk, but Kelly Grieve struck out.
Lini Koria drew a walk on the 16th pitch of her at-bat to lead off the bottom of the second. After two quick outs, Karissa Buchanan singled up the middle, but Lastrapes struck out for only the second time in the WCWS to leave two more on base.
The Lady Vols picked up another run on a double by Huff that plated Gibson to give UT a two-run margin.
In the bottom half, Stacie Chambers countered with Arizona's first home run since May 23: a one-out, two-run shot with Schutzler aboard, to even the score. Schutzler had led off the frame with a single to right. Two singles and a groundout later, pinch hitter Matte Haack went down on strikes. Haack remained in the game, though, as the designated player and Koria moved to first base on the defensive end for the first time in her career.
Arredondo hit a sharp liner into right field in the fifth, then moved over after Chambers laid down a sac bunt. Del Ponte picked up her second single of the game into centerfield, scoring the senior and giving Arizona a 3-2 lead.
Gibson walked to start the sixth for UT and was sacrificed to second. An out later, pinch hitter Shelby Burchell struck out, but Gibson moved to third on a passed ball. Fowler got another pinch hitter, Nicole Kajitani, on strikes to preserve the lead.
Buchanan picked up another infield single to lead off the sixth, as did Lastrapes. Schutzler hit a hard grounder to the shortstop Andrews who fielded it on a hop and turned a double play on Buchanan and Lastrapes. But K'Lee Arredondo took the first pitch she saw over the right field wall for a two-run shot to give UA the 5-2 margin.
Fowler gave up a two-out single, but got Jessica Spigner to strike out to end the game.
Candrea postgame quick take
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Mike Candrea
"Wow, that's it. Just an outstanding performance; gutsy, tenacious, whatever you want to call it. For the last two days it has just been a grind. We told them it's going to take it one step at a time. You've got to climb a mountain, but you are capable of doing it. The big thing was having fun. I thought this team really loosened up a little and started having fun, started playing the game the way they are capable of. Today was a good example. I think we had a really good team effort, crucial plays that you need at this time of year. One was a sacrifice bunt by (Stacie) Chambers, which I thought was a huge time of the game. What do you say about Kenzie (Folwer) and her performance? I don't know many freshmen that can go through what she has, and she gave us an opportunity to win. We could go down the line: great catch by (Brittany) Lastrapes, kind of turned the tide a little bit in the game. There are all sorts of things that happen in games like this. I am just very, very proud of this group. We talked about getting where we want to get, and we are not there yet. We've done what we need to do to get into the championship series and get to play an opponent that we know very well. It is going to come down to who is going to execute the game. So we are excited."
On how much the sport has changed since 1991 when Arizona won its first national title:
"Oh gosh, tremendously. I think the '96 Olympic games was kind of the first boost our sport got, and when we got television involved. It has really helped grow this event. You look at it right now; it is a very, very exciting event because I think people are starting to identify Oklahoma City with the College World Series. I think the game has changed tremendously. Back then it was a white ball, white seams, aluminum bats, and now we have a composite bat that I think has kind of changed the complexity of the game a little bit. Overall, it still comes down, at this stage, to getting great pitching performances, playing great defense and doing little things it takes to win. I think this sport is in great hands right now. I feel it is going to do nothing but get bigger and bigger and bigger."
On if this is like old times with Arizona playing UCLA for the title:
"You know, I guess it is like old times. But we had to beat some very good teams to get here. I know coming in, a little bit of the motivation is the hype about the SEC. And the SEC is a very good conference, but we still believe that the Pac-10 can still hold its own. So it's kind of fun right now to culminate with two Pac-10 teams, kind of like a rehearsal."
ARIZONA FRESHMAN PITCHER Kenzie Fowler
On if she found a groove today:
"The last two days have definitely been a grind. I wouldn't say that I found a groove, I would just say I was kind of grinding it out. Yeah I was tired, but who really cares? (Our) defense played awesome today. As long as you can keep the game where we have a chance to win, I think our team has a good chance. Long two days but it was really fun."
ARIZONA JUNIOR CATCHER Stacie Chambers
On her third-inning two-run home run that gave Arizona a 2-0 lead:
"I was just trying to be relaxed. I had been real tense, the whole time pretty much. I made sure that I was relaxed today and I was just seeing good pitches. I made a couple of adjustments and they worked. And I'm glad they did because it helped us out a lot. "
ARIZONA SENIOR SHORTSTOP K'Lee Arredondo
On what she was thinking before her two-run home run in the sixth:
"I guess I wasn't thinking. My main thing was to get on base, to get something going. We needed some more runs for Kenz (Kenzie Fowler). It's a comfort thing when you have more runs on your back. It feels good. She (Ivy Renfroe) threw me the same pitch I got the hit before. It looked like a riseball inside or a high fastball, I'm not too sure."