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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona softball inks World Series bid

    Arizona softball inks World Series bid

    Never count the Arizona Wildcat softball team out.

    After tying the three-game series at one apiece, Arizona starting pitcher Sarah Akamine (22-7) was pulled in the first inning of game three without a single out, a troubling sign for the Wildcats, who had seen their 3-0 lead close to 3-2.

    But Akamine’s departure became a blessing in disguise. Replacement pitcher Lindsey Sisk (13-4) threw the game of her life, striking out 14 Stanford batters in Palo Alto, Calif., during a 6-5 victory and tabbing No. 9 seed Arizona (46-15) for yet another Women’s College World Series appearance.

    “”I knew I had to be ready for this game,”” Sisk said, after returning to Tucson. “”In the beginning of the game I was throwing well and I knew I had to stick with my stuff to get through the game.””

    Despite a 3-0 Arizona lead after the top of the first inning, Akamine’s struggles and a defensive error scored two Stanford base runners to bring the Cardinal (48-11) within one run.

    A sign of her dominating performance to come, Sisk took the circle and struck out two batters after a Cardinal sacrifice bunt accounted for the first out. She would go on to pitch the full seven innings in the win.

    “”I think one of the things with Lindsey is a couple weeks ago, we talked about the rough road and sticking with it, keep working hard in practice and get better every week,”” pitching coach Teresa Wilson said. “”She found Stanford’s weakness and stuck with it. She really rose to the occasion.””

    Arizona tacked on a fourth run during the third inning when third baseman Jenae Leles hit a solo bomb to right center field. They added to the margin in the sixth, going up 6-2 on left fielder Brittany Lastrapes’ single that scored center fielder Lauren Schutzler and pinch runner Jill Malina.

    Not feeling the pressure of the post season, Lastrapes tallied an astounding seven hits in 11 at-bats against Penna during the series, adding four runs and three RBI in the process.

    But the Cardinal, hungry for their own WCWS ticket, wouldn’t lay down.

    In the bottom of the sixth inning, Stanford rallied for three runs to pull the game within one score, but Sisk tallied three commanding strike outs – her third three-strikeout inning of the game – in the seventh to deny Stanford an extension of their season.

    “”It was cool, it was crisp last night,”” Wilson said. “”There was a lot of adrenaline flowing. I just think it was a great environment for (Sisk) having the game she’s capable of throwing.””

    On top of Sisk’s effort in the circle, the Wildcats used what they’re good at to account for their known deficiencies.

    Inconsistent pitching and defense cost the Wildcats in Thursday’s game one, but it was their offense that kept up their aggression against Stanford ace Missy Penna (35-8). Arizona batters swung aggressively at the Cardinal pitcher throughout the series, hoping to take pressure off their defense.

    “”I thought we hit off her pretty good in game one,”” Lastrapes said. “”We didn’t let the loss part of it get us down. We just knew we were hitting the ball hard and we kept doing it.””

    That paid dividends with Arizona putting up seven runs off 11 hits in game two which gave pitcher Jennifer Martinez (11-4) her first post season win. That momentum spilled into the decisive contest, as first baseman Sam Banister hit a three-run shot off Penna in the first inning to keep the Wildcats rolling.

    Through the series, Arizona added to its record home run total which now stands at 134 on the year.

    The Wildcats have now made the WCWS 21 of the past 22 years. They will return home before heading to Oklahoma City, Okla., to await the winner between No. 1 seed Florida and Pacific 10 Conference foe California.

    The WCWS begins May 28 with game times still to be decided.

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