UA Wildcats softball
Wildcat victory brought to you by the letter 'K'
Arizona 8, New Mexico 0
The name Kenzie begins with a "K," and that's exactly how Arizona pitcher Kenzie Fowler began the second round game of the NCAA Regionals against New Mexico State on Saturday.
After the Wildcats got a three-run home run by Stacie Chambers in the top of the first to put the Wildcats up 3-0, Fowler struck out the side in the bottom of the frame.
Arizona would go on to defeat the Aggies, 8-0.
"It definitely makes a difference (to go into the first inning with a three-run lead)," Fowler said.
"Sometimes, I get excited when we're visitors because our offense is so good. So when your team scores you some runs right away, I think as a pitcher, it makes you feel better. It's a comforting feeling to go out there with the lead."
After the first inning, both teams would post zeros for the next three until Arizona's Brigette Del Ponte launched a two-run shot over the wall in the top of the fifth. It was the third baseman's 17th homer of the season.
"In my first two at-bats, she gave me two first-pitch strikes," Del Ponte said. "So on my third at-bat, I was just looking hard. I was looking in and adjusting out."
Del Ponte also broke the single-season school record in the doubles category, knocking in her 22nd two-bagger of the year against the Aggies.
Fowler hurled a season-high 15 strikeouts in her complete game shutout but frequently had runners on base. She sacrificed 3 walks and 8 hits in the contest.
"You just really have to try to buckle down when you get into trouble," Fowler said.
"But I thought I did a good job of not being tight in that situation. A lot of times, I tend to overthrow when the pressure is on, but for some reason today, I was just feeling very loose when they had runners on."
New Mexico State left 12 runners on base in the contest. Of the seven innings that Fowler pitched, at least one runner was left in scoring position in five of them.
"The zero on the board doesn't always show everything," Fowler said. "It doesn't show how many times runners were in scoring position and had an opportunity. But we did make some good plays at the right time and got a bunch of key strikeouts that helped."
In the top of the sixth, the Aggies had loaded the bases with one out. Fowler went on to strikeout the next two batters to end the inning. In the next inning, the right-handed sophomore would load the bases again, but then strikeout Ashley Maroda to end the game.
She threw 141 pitches against the Aggies.
"We went out and did what we needed to do," Candrea said. "We got a great performance out of Fowler, and the Chambers' home run in the first (inning) really got us going. Overall, it was a good day for us, and we're getting ready for tomorrow."
The Wildcats advance to the regional championship. Game time is Sunday at noon at Hillenbrand Stadium.