Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Wildcats One Win from Eighth NCAA Title after 10-Inning Thriller
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 06, 2007
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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OKLAHOMA CITY ?- Danielle Rodriguez had a happy birthday, and the Wildcats have another day left in their season after the junior pinch runner scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning against Tennessee to even the Championship Series at one game apiece in the 2007 WCWS.


Rodriguez scored on an Adrienne Acton fielder’s choice with one out in the top of the 10th inning and snapped a streak of 43 consecutive scoreless innings for Tennessee’s Monica Abbott.


With the win, Arizona improved to 49-14-1 with one game to play in the season, while Tennessee dropped to 63-7.


Arizona pitcher Taryne Mowatt (41-12) tossed her seventh complete game in six days, shutting out the Lady Vols to earn her 41st victory of the season ?- tying her with Alicia Hollowell for the most victories in a single season at Arizona.


The junior All-American struck out 11 Lady Vol hitters and in doing so became the single-season strikeout leader at Arizona with 511.


Abbott (50-4) allowed just the one run on four hits and struck out 11 hitters of her own, but the one run made the difference.


Both teams squandered scoring opportunities throughout the game, as Arizona left seven runners on base and Tennessee stranded 14 in the extra-inning thriller.


Rodriguez entered the game as a pinch runner for Sam Banister, who singled to for the second time in the game to lead off the 10th.  The multi-hit game was Banister’s second in as many days, marking the first time the sophomore has accomplished the feat in back-to-back games all year.  Next, designated player Sarah Akamine sacrificed Banister to second.  That brought up Callista Balko, who entered the at-bat 0-for-19 in the WCWS.  The Arizona catcher laid down a bunt of her own, which moved Rodriguez to third and allowed Balko to reach with an error.  The next batter, Acton, plated Rodriguez with a chopper to short on the closest of plays at the plate.


The first base runners of the game came in the top of the second, when UA third baseman Jenae Leles drew a leadoff walk.  One out later, Banister connected on her third hit in two games to give the Wildcats two runners on with just one out.  However, Abbott struck out the next two Arizona hitters to end the threat.


Tennessee’s offense nearly mirrored the Wildcats’ output as Shannon Doepking drew a one-out walk and Alexia Clay hit a blooper to center field that fell for a single.  Like Abbott did in the top half of the frame, Mowatt buckled down and struck out the next two Lady Vols to keep the game scoreless.


Mowatt worked out of more trouble in the fourth. Tonya Callahan started things off with a walk and Doepking laid down a bunt that allowed her to reach on a fielder’s choice.  Next, Mowatt induced Clay into grounding into a double play, before getting the next hitter to ground out as well.


Mowatt continued to play with fire as she loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fifth. Liane Horiuchi started things off with a walk and moved up a base on a Kenora Posey bunt single.  That brought up the top of the order and SEC Player of the Year India Chiles, who loaded the bases with an infield single.  Mowatt got Lindsay Schutzler to ground into a fielder’s choice to retire Horiuchi.  She then got Tiffany Huff and Callahan to pop to her middle infielder’s with exceptional plays by Chelsie Mesa and Kristie Fox, respectively.


Other than a two-out single off the bat of Mesa in the fourth, Abbott retired the Wildcats in order from the third inning until the seventh.  That’s when Banister drew a two-out, full-count walk.  Abbott struck out the next hitter ?- her 10th punchout of the night ?- to bring the game to the bottom of the seventh.


The game headed to extra-innings when Mowatt left a pair of Lady Vols on base in the bottom of the seventh.  With two outs, Schutzler singled and Huff walked, but Mowatt got Callahan to fly out to left. 


Kristie Fox reached with a one-out single in the ninth.  The base knock was her 10th of the WCWS play and marked the 16th game out of the last 18 that she has had at least one hit.  Yet again, Abbott left the runners stranded as she retired the next two hitters.


Posey started Tennessee’s half of the ninth with a single through the right side.  With Chiles at the plate, Posey stole second.  Next, Mowatt struck out Chiles to tie UA’s single-season record of 508 punchouts.  The Wildcats then elected to walk Schutzler intentionally, bringing up the heart of the order with just one out. 


Mowatt responded by getting Huff to fly out.  With two outs and a full count, Mowatt became the single-season strikeout leader by striking out cleanup hitter Callahan to end the inning.


Game Notes:

-          Taryne Mowatt set a WCWS record for complete games with seven.

-          Taryne Mowatt set a WCWS record for walks in a given WCWS with 25.  However, only one of those bases on balls has come around to score.

-          Arizona improved to 3-1-1 in extra-inning games this year.

-          Kristie Fox’s 10 hits in the WCWS are the second-most all-time.


Up Next: With the win, Arizona forced a deciding Game 3 with Tennessee to determine the 2007 NCAA Division I champion.  The game will be played at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Wednesday and will be televised on ESPN2.


Arizona will try to win its eighth NCAA title in program history and win back-to-back championships for the third time in program history.