UA Wildcats softball
Wildcats rout Red Raiders, move on to Super Regionals
The Texas Tech softball team achieved what no other team has done against Arizona in this year's NCAA Regionals on Sunday: They scored a run off Kenzie Fowler. Not just one either.
In the championship round, Arizona defeated the Red Raiders, 10-2, at Hillenbrand Stadium.
"(Texas Tech) is a really good hitting team and fought us until the very end," Fowler said. "I think it was a good experience to go through, especially going into (the Super Regionals). Every team from here on out is going to fight us until the very end. It was a tough game."
After a scoreless first inning by both teams, Arizona's Lini Koria kickstarted the Wildcats' offense with a solo home run to left-center field in the top of the second, giving Arizona its first run. The right-hander would be perfect on the day, going 3-for3 with 3 RBIs.
The Arizona offense followed Koria's lead, posting 6 unanswered runs through the top of the fourth inning. The Wildcats scored 2 runs in each of the second, third and fourth frames, consistently providing runs for Fowler.
Two of the Wildcats' initial 6 runs came off of bases-loaded walks, and one off of a hit-batsman with the bases loaded.
Texas Tech pitchers issued 10 walks in the regional championship game, with 7 of them coming in the first four innings.
"These Arizona hitters do a good job at taking borderline pitches," Texas Tech head coach Shannon Hays said. "They are very disciplined at the plate."
Arizona leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes drew 4 walks from Red Raiders' pitchers in the contest.
"It felt good to be patient today," Lastrapes said. "Whenever I step up to the plate, I usually get myself out, because I always want to hit the ball. But it was nice to be patient today."
Still trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Texas Tech got their first run of the game. A solo home run to dead center field by Raven Richardson cut Arizona's winning margin to 5.
The score remained locked at 6-1 through the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth, the Wildcats put together 4 runs in the inning, including three consecutive singles and a two-run homerun by Baillie Kirker, to increase their lead to 10-1.
"I was very excited for Baillie," Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. "She's been working through a terrible timing issue, and really put together good at-bats today."
Behind by 9 runs in the sixth, Texas Tech would need to put across at least 2 runs to avoid the game ending. The NCAA softball mercy rule states that if a team is ahead by 8 or more runs after the fifth inning, they are automatically declared the winner.
The Red Raiders would manufacture a run—coming off a walk and two singles—to cut the lead to 8. With one out and runners at first and second, Fowler would induce two flyouts to left field to end the game at six innings, 10-2.
"Kenzie did a great job today," Candrea said. "She was battling a very, very tight strike zone the whole game. That can be a very frustrating situation to deal with as a pitcher, but she didn't let it get to her and really kept composed."
Fowler issued 3 walks on 5 hits and 3 strikeouts in her complete game.
"When you're dealing with a small zone, the better pitcher is usually going to win," Hays said. "And I think Kenzie proved that to us today. She attacked the zone, she moved the ball around. She threw very well."
Arizona outscored their opponents in the regional tournament 29-2.
Cats to host OK in Fri/Sat Super Regional
With the victory, Arizona takes another step toward the Women's College World Series.
For the sixth time in the round's seven year existence, Arizona will host the Super Regional round of the NCAA Championship. The Cats will welcome the Oklahoma Sooners, the ninth seed in the 2011 tournament.
The games will be Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28:
- Friday, 8:30 p.m.
- Saturday, 2 p.m.
- Saturday, 4:30 p.m. (if necessary)
The round is a best of three series between the two clubs with the winner advancing to the Women's College World Series.
Tickets are on sale to season ticket holders until 3 p.m. Monday. Any remaining seats will go on sale to the general public at 6 p.m.
All games will be televised by ESPN with Friday's contest broadcast on ESPNU and Saturday's game(s) on ESPN. Each game will be simulcast on ESPN3.com.
Arizona is a perfect 6-for-6 in the round of 16 with an overall record of 12-3 in Super Regional action.
The Cats and Sooners have met twice before this season with unpleasant results for Arizona on both occasions. Oklahoma handed Arizona its first loss of the season in Tempe at the Kajikawa Classic, Feb. 12: 11-1 in five innings. The two met again in Fullerton, Calif. at the Judi Garman Classic with Oklahoma winning 5-3 on March 17.