2014 NCAA Softball Championships
Tucson, Ariz., Regional - Saturday, May 17
Game 1 - LSU 13, Louisville 9
Game 2 - Arizona 9, Boston 6
Game 3 - Arizona 9, LSU 8
TUCSON, Ariz.--An infrequent 5-3-6 double play in the seventh inning helped Arizona overcome another late charge by LSU and the Wildcats beat the Tigers, 9-8, in nail-biting NCAA Softball Championships winner's bracket action to move into the regional championship game on Sunday.
Arizona first baseman Hallie Wilson -- whose two home runs and six RBI led the Cats at the plate -- took a throw from third baseman Lauren Young and returned a gun to shortstop Kellie Fox at third to nail Sandra Simmons, who represented the game’s tying run, for the third and final out in the game.
Arizona (43-13) gets a leg up in the tournament, with the eventual matchup on Sunday requiring two victories by the team emerging from later action Saturday.
The Tigers (36-23) will play the winner of the Boston-Louisville game in the region's second elimination game at 6:30 p.m. (MST/PDT).
UA's Estela Pinon won with her ninth complete game to improve to 19-7, but not without drama and struggle. She gave up eight hits, walked four, hit two batters and struck out four. All the runs were earned. Baylee Corbello (18-9) took the loss in her 23rd complete game. She also was not in top form, allowing 10 hits, hitting a batter, walking seven and striking out three.
LSU had a runner in scoring position after A.J. Andrews led off the game with a single, and two outs later stole second, her 36th steal of the year. But Pinon got a foul popup from Bianka Bell to strand the runner.
UA started similarly, with a leadoff single by Hallie Wilson. A sac bunt by Kelsey Rodriguez moved her to second. Corbello got a fly out, then hit Chelsea Goodacre with a pitch to put two aboard, but struck out Katiyana Mauga to strand a pair.
UA put runs on the board with a two-out rally and the long ball in the second.
Courtney Rodriguez singled up the middle, Chelsea Suitos singled off the glove of third baseman Tammy Wray and then Hallie Wilson drove the first pitch deep to left center that caromed off the top of the wall and fielder Andrews' glove, squirting 100 feet toward the line and giving Wilson an inside-the-park home run, her 14th of the year.
Kelsey Rodriguez socked the next pitch over the fence in left center for a 4-0 lead and her eighth homer of the year.
It signaled the end of scoreless ball. LSU's Wray ripped a liner over the left field fence to open the third, and then Bailey Landry tugged a double down the line in left. Two outs later, Jaquish drew a walk and Bell slugged her 13th home run of the season to knot the score, 4-4.
Each team had two runners on base with one out in the fourth inning but first Pinon and then Corbello pitched out of the jams. Pinon also walked two with one out in the fiffth, but struck out a pair to end that threat.
Corbello walked two in the bottom of the inning and it hurt. Wilson came through with another two-out home run, this one straight to right -- and over the fence for a 7-4 lead. The rally kept going with a single by Kelsey Rodriguez, a double by Kellie Fox to move both into scoring position, and a two-run single by Goodacre, who was thrown out trying for a two-base hit and a 9-4 margin.
Pinon retired the first two batters in the sixth, but Landry socked her second homer of the year to left to make it 9-5. .
In the seventh, Pinon issued a leadoff walk to Jacee Blades, an infield single to Jaquish and hit Bell to load the bases. Kellsi Kloss' groundball drove in two when pinch runner Alex Boulet ran through a coach's stop sign and beat a throw to the plate to make it 9-7.
A single by Sandra Simmons drove in Bell to make it 9-8. And then, Allison Falcon's grounder to third started the game-clinching double play, with Young looking back Simmons long enough to give Wilson a chance on the return throw.
Arizona postgame press conference transcript:
Head coach Mike Candrea
“LSU just kept throwing the punches, and we kept responding. The way we respond, as a team, is what got us here.”
On the defensive effort:
“This time of the year, you gotta make the plays. That’s what the post season is about, anytime you give a team 4 or 5 outs an inning, it’ll cost you. But we handled it well. We did a great job defensively.”
On the victory:
“You have to earn everything in this game… take one pitch at a time, and earn every moment.”
On Hallie Wilson’s inside-the-park home run:
“I’ve seen some crazy things, but nothing like that. Stuff like that is just unpredictable, which to me is the greatest part about the game.”
Junior first baseman Hallie Wilson
On her two-homer performance:
“I’ve been struggling a little bit at the plate, but today, I felt as though I got my groove back.”
On the mindset of the girls:
“The thing about our team is that we are not full of superstars. Our team is full of the girls that got kicked to the curb and have had to come right back. We’re those girls, we’re fighters and we are always ready for what’s ahead, and want it.”
Senior pitcher Estela Piñon
On her thoughts in the seventh inning:
“Honestly it’s just one pitch at a time for me. That’s all it is. I don’t focus on the next batter, I trust my girls behind me, and I focus on what’s in front of me, at that moment, and trying to get ahead.”
On coming back tomorrow:
“I’m just focusing on rest, lots of water, stretching, ice cold baths and just trying to stay healthy for our next task ahead.”
LSU postgame press conference transcript:
LSU head coach Beth Torina
“You know, I think Arizona has one of the best offenses in the country and I think they showed us why today. They did a really nice job offensively and were able to put up a lot of runs. I like the fight my team showed at the end of the game, and actually all throughout I thought we fought really hard. I thought we wasted some at-bats. I thought there were some things we could do better and hopefully we’ll learn from it and come back.”
On the comeback attempt coming up short:
“It’s frustrating. I think we’re capable of coming back and I think we’ve done that several times this year. We’ve come back from larger deficits than that against some quality team. I thought we ran ourselves out there at the end and didn’t give ourselves a very good opportunity.”
On Hallie Wilson’s inside-the-park home run:
“I don’t think we had a problem catching the ball today. Hallie (Wilson) hit the ball well and gets a lot of credit but it was a fluke thing there when we kicked the ball into the corner.”
Sophomore shortstop Bianka Bell
On the team’s offense:
“We’ve been hitting the ball well, crushing it, and have been on a roll offensively since we’ve been here and just have been going with it.”
LSU Head Coach Beth Torina
“They call us the Fighting Tigers for a reason, and now I understand why more than ever. This team has shown that they can do this all year. We have that never quit attitude. What a great game and tournament by Boston, hats off to them.”
On Boston Pitcher Melanie Russell:
“I think that Melanie Russell is different from anyone in this group. It is very difficult to prepare for her, and our players are used to being well prepared for the pitchers we face. It took us several at bats to make an adjustment, but once we figured it out we put an exclamation point on it.”
On the offense:
“We are a very well rounded offense with our power and speed, and that’s the type of offense I want as a coach. Our speed is tough to get out, so we always feel like we have a chance.”
On Alex Boulet:
“Alex Boulet is the best base runner I have seen in my entire life. When she is on base we score runs because she is so special. We decided before the game that we were going to be aggressive and play to win.”
Freshman Infielder Sahvanna Jaquish
On the last inning:
“I knew we were going to win when we tied it up. For me, it was about the seniors and what they have done for us, and I just wanted to give back to them. I was just in the moment and was honored to help us get to the next game.”
Boston University postgame press conference transcript:
Boston University Head Coach Kathryn Gleason
“You can’t give a team like that extra outs. We opened the door for them and they ran through it. They are a great team with a high powered offense, and we couldn’t close the door.”