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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Softball: Arizona succumbs to illegal pitches, quiet bats”

Softball: Arizona succumbs to illegal pitches, quiet bats

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Kenzie Fowler’s first pitch of Arizona softball’s first game at the 2010 Women’s College World Series would be called an illegal pitch.

That call would be the first of many on Thursday night as the No. 10 seed Arizona Wildcats fell 9-0 in five innings to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in their first game of the tournament.

“”It’s a hell of a way to start your opening game of the College World Series and have something called that’s not been called,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea.

The officiating call of an illegal pitch has been the story of this year’s World Series so far. It was also a factor in the game previous to the Arizona-Tennessee match-up, when Florida pitcher Stephanie Brombacher was called for illegal pitches that got the Gators out of rhythm en route to a 16-3 drubbing at the hands of UCLA.

The next game would follow a similar path.

Wildcat pitcher Kenzie Fowler was called for eight illegal pitches — three alone in the first inning. All season, Fowler had only been called for six balks, which is always recorded as an illegal pitch.

“”It’s hard when it’s something that we as players can’t control,”” Fowler said. “”We weren’t making the mistakes, it was just my pitching that was illegal. It’s hard when runs are scored and no balls are put in play.””

The consequences of the calls scored two unearned runs for the No. 15-seeded Lady Volunteers (48-13).

Candrea was frustrated with the inconsistency in the umpires’ calls.

“”It’s hard to fix what you don’t know what to fix,”” he said.

Fowler’s start was her first since being hit in the arm by a line drive against BYU in the Tucson Super Regional last weekend. Her arm visibly bothered her and she threw 52 pitches by the middle of the second inning. The illegal pitch calls only rattled her more.

“”I thought I was pitching well, but it’s hard to rebound from something so dramatic and something that can change the game when a girl is supposed to be out and she’s safe,”” Fowler said. “”It is hard to recover from something that just totally ruined your rhythm.””

The illegal pitches erased potential outs and advanced base runners 60 feet closer to home, as per the NCAA rule.

Fowler walked eight batters in just over three innings of work, tying the record for most walks in a WCWS game.

And for Arizona, it all unraveled from there.

The loss was the Wildcats’ second loss by the mercy rule at the WCWS. They were eliminated by Alabama in a historical 14-0 loss last year. Arizona hasn’t scored an earned run in the WCWS in 32.2 innings, dating back to 2007.

“”We’re a decent hitting team, but we have had our struggles,”” Candrea said.

The Lady Volunteers improved their all-time record to 5-10 against Arizona and 5-3 against the Wildcats at the WCWS. They put up nine runs and six hits on the Wildcats, who put up three hits off of Lady Volunteer pitcher Ivy Renfroe.

Tennessee did its first round of damage in the third inning when Fowler would have thrown out Kelly Grieve but the umpires ruled the pitch illegal and sent Grieve to first base. A fielder’s choice and Fowler’s sixth walk of the game put runners first and second with one out. Another illegal pitch call would move both runners up before Tiffany Huff would walk to load the bases.

And an illegal pitch call would score the first run for Tennessee. A double off the bat of Volunteer Erinn Webb would clear the bases to put the Lady Volunteers up by three.

The next batter, another illegal pitch called against her would score Tennessee’s fourth run.

By the end of the fourth inning, Arizona would trail 7-0.

On the offensive side, the Wildcats did not help their cause.

They have been outscored 24-0 in the last three WCWS games. Lady Volunteer freshman Renfroe threw faster than Arizona was expecting, and the Wildcats couldn’t keep up said shortstop K’Lee Arredondo.

“”She threw faster than we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks,”” the senior said. “”We just didn’t make the adjustments.””

The Wildcats will play the winner of the Georgia-Washington game at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time on Saturday. In the double elimination tournament, it’s win or go home for Arizona.

“”We’ve got our work cut out. We can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, which we’re not going to do,”” Candrea said. “”We need to regroup and we need to get ready for the next game, whomever we play. By no means is this team going to throw in the towel, but it was a rough start.””

 

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