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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona softball eliminated from College World Series

    From left, UA seniors Taryne Mowatt, Adrienne Acton and Callista Balko spend their final moments in ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City on Saturday.
    From left, UA seniors Taryne Mowatt, Adrienne Acton and Callista Balko spend their final moments in ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City on Saturday.

    Women’s College World Series

    OKLAHOMA CITY – There will be no threepeat.

    The back-to-back defending national champion Arizona softball team was eliminated from the Women’s College World Series on Saturday after losing to Alabama 5-1 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. It marked the first time Arizona failed to reach the championship game while defending its eight national title and the Wildcats’ first WCWS sweep in 17 appearances since 1990.

    “”As a senior, it’s something that you totally don’t expect,”” said senior Callista Balko. “”We came in here not expecting to be done in two games. We told the younger players today, it’s a different feeling walking onto the field when you’re a senior than when you’re a freshman. You really don’t get it until your sophomore year.””

    When Arizona ace Taryne Mowatt, who was named last year’s WCWS Most Outstanding Player, was reminded that not many players can say they have two national championship trophies, the pitcher was able to crack a smile.

    “”But I’m greedy,”” Mowatt said. “”I wanted three.””

    Mowatt, who threw 163 pitches in the game, was shelled for 10 hits and gave up seven walks despite striking out eight batters. Her team was six wins away from getting a third trophy.

    Mowatt finished the season 29-15 with 413 strikeouts over 285.2 innings. She went 42-12 last season. She finished her career at Arizona with a 107-33 record, giving her the fourth-most wins in Wildcat history behind Jennie Finch (119), Nancy Evans (124) and Alicia Hollowell (134).

    “”I think it was different this year than it was last year,”” Balko said. “”To be honest, I think our bodies are different this year. (Mowatt) had a lot more in her last year. Her fight was still the same but I think physically, her body wasn’t the same as last year and I think that has a huge part to do with why people were hitting her more. … But I think she left giving everything she had.””

    Mowatt agreed, saying this year’s team was much more passive than last year’s.

    “”Last year’s team, if you told them they couldn’t do it, they did it,”” Mowatt said. “”This year’s team had that to a certain extent. We just had a lot of young people and they’ve come a long ways and they’re going to have great careers here.””

    The Wildcats lost all momentum in their final game in the sixth inning. With the game tied 1-1, Mowatt walked catcher Ashley Holcombe. Then second baseman Whitney Larsen singled to left field to put runners on first and second.

    Leadoff hitter Brittany Rogers slapped a ball over the head of a diving K’Lee Arredondo at shortstop. The ball hit Arredondo’s glove and rolled by left fielder Brittany Lastrapes to score Holcombe.

    Then Mowatt walked Jordan Praytor to bring up Charlotte Morgan – NCAA’s RBI leader. Morgan knocked the ball down the left-field line for two more runs and Kelley Montalvo smacked a double to give the Crimson Tide a 5-1 lead.

    “”Last year we got the key hit at the right time,”” Mowatt said. “”You have a little bit of luck on your side, things fall in. This year the luck was not on our side. Alabama got the key hit when they needed it.””

    Arizona, which finished 41-19, had the chance to do the same all afternoon but couldn’t capitalize on what it had. The Wildcats left seven runners on base.

    Alabama pitcher Kelsi Dunne allowed four hits and two walks in seven innings of work.

    “”I thought we were going to be able to score some runs off of Kelsi,”” said UA interim head coach Larry Ray. “”And it was just one of those things were she made some good pitches at some crucial times.””

    Alabama got its first boost of offense when Morgan stepped up to the plate in the top of the third. After sending three foul balls down the left-field line, Morgan sent a 2-2 offering from Mowatt sky rocketing over the left-field wall for a solo home run.

    To combat, the Wildcats decided to play small ball in the bottom of the third.

    Arredondo reached first on an error by Alabama shortstop Kellie Eubands to lead off the inning. Third baseman Jenae Leles reached base after a successful bunt, putting runners on first and second.

    Second baseman Sam Banister bunted the runners over and designated player Stacie Chambers hit an opposite-field single to left to tie the game 1-1.

    With two outs, Chambers stole second but Jill Malina – who was pinch-running for Leles – was caught in a rundown between third and home, ending the ending.

    “”I told (Malina) to break on the catchers’ release and I don’t know what she was thinking,”” Ray said. “”I talked to her and she felt that because the shortstop didn’t make a play on the runner, that’s why she stopped. The ball was deep at second base and they had to make a perfect throw (home) to get her.

    “”Just one of those things,”” Ray added. “”She’s a headsy kid and she wouldn’t make that mistake probably a thousand times if we did it.””

    The Wildcats had another chance to get some runs in the fifth inning but to no avail.

    Banister came up to plate with one out and runners on first and second. She lined out to a leaping Kellie Eubanks at shortstop, who doubled up Arredondo on second for an inning-ending double play.

    Mowatt escaped trouble in the top of the fourth after two singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. Leadoff hitter Brittany Rodgers came up and slapped the ball back to Mowatt, who bobbled the ball before tossing it to Balko. The catcher stepped on the plate just as Dani Woods slid into home and was called out.

    In the two games that Arizona played in this year’s WCWS, the Wildcats only scored one run and they never led. The early departure brought tears to Mowatt’s eyes on more than one occasion after the game and made Balko choke up as well.

    But the season was all but a dissappointment, said Ray, who served as the team’s head coach while Mike Candrea was away coaching the U.S. Olympic team.

    “”Some people will think that without a championship, it’s a failure, but I don’t feel that way,”” Ray said. “”The last couple of years were minor miracles, so to speak, and I thought this was a better team than last year’s. It’s just one of those things. It doesn’t always work out.””

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