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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Orange crush

The Arizona softball team celebrates its 5-0 victory over Tennessee in Game 3 of the WCWS Wednesday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Wildcats pitcher Taryne Mowatt was named the tournaments Most Outstanding Player.
The Arizona softball team celebrates its 5-0 victory over Tennessee in Game 3 of the WCWS Wednesday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Wildcats pitcher Taryne Mowatt was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

OKLAHOMA CITY- In a Women’s College World Series that has been based on solid pitching and dominant defense, runs have been almost impossible to come by. But that wasn’t the case with the top-seeded Arizona softball team Wednesday night.

After scoring just one run in the first two games of the WCWS – a span of 17 innings – the Wildcats downed Tennessee 5-0 behind an explosive offensive performance in the final game of the championship series, winning their second straight national championship and eighth in 17 years.

“”This was by far one of the most memorable College World Series that I have been through in a long time,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “”The grit, the focus, the relaxing, the fire, (Taryne Mowatt) on the mound, our seniors stepping up on when it counted.””

Candrea added: “”When you start the year and you talk about a process, hopefully your kids believe in the process. It culminated with really one of our best games of the year at the right time. That’s kind of a perfect season.””

Arizona (50-14-1) became the first team since UCLA in 2003 to advance through the loser’s bracket to win a national championship.

The Wildcats were led by dominant performances from starting pitcher Taryne Mowatt (42-12) – the WCWS Most Outstanding Player – throughout the tournament, as she threw every pitch of Arizona’s postseason. The Corona, Calif., native helped Arizona notch back-to-back titles for the third time in school history with an 11 strikeout complete-game shutout to finish her junior year.

Mowatt broke Tennessee starting pitcher Monica Abbott’s (50-5) record for the most strikeouts in the WCWS as she struck out 76 batters; Abbott finished with 75.

“”Now that the weekend is over I can admit I’m extremely tired now,”” Mowatt said after throwing eight games in seven days, totaling 1,035 pitches. “”I definitely put myself in a lot of tough situations, but the whole time I stuck with it.””

After stranding 14 Tennessee runners on base in the second game of the series Tuesday night, Mowatt was able to keep the Lady Vols (63-8) from scoring once again, this time stranding 12 base runners.””

“”A lot of the time there was a little base hit here, accompanied by a few walks,”” Mowatt said after allowing five of Tennessee’s seven lead off hitters to reach base. “”I just let them hit it into my defense. My defense was behind me to make plays.””

In the third inning, an incident with Leles on the basepath cost the Wildcats a run.

With the bases loaded and one out, senior Chelsie Mesa hit a 3-2 pitch toward second base. Second baseman Kendora Posey came in to field the ball, but Leles ran into Posey on her way to second. She was called out on runner’s interference and the play was called dead. Alas, Lowe would have scored from third had there been no interference, but all runners were sent back to their respective bases and Mesa was given a single.

Leles – who was shaken up by the play – was comforted by catcher Callista Balko – who told her that she would be OK and would end up hitting in the game-winning run, Leles said.

Balko knew exactly what she was talking about.

After displaying a non-effective offense through the first two games of the series, the Wildcats tagged Abbott – the USA Softball Player of the Year – for ten hits. Arizona erupted for all five of their runs in the top of fifth inning after Abbott struck out the side in the fourth.

Caitlin Lowe started the inning off with a lead off single. Then a K’lee Arredondo line drive single to left caused an error and allowed the two runners to advance to second and third. After an intentional walk to Kristie Fox, Janae Leles came up with the bases loaded and nobody out.

“”I kind of take it as an insult when they walk Kristie to get to me,”” Leles said.

The sophomore first baseman jumped on the first offering from Abbott, hitting a two-RBI single up the middle to give Arizona its biggest lead of the series.

Mesa- who had an error Friday that allowed the Lady Vols’ game-winning run on Friday night – came up next and pulled a three-run home run to right field that would give Arizona a 5-0 advantage.

“”It felt awesome,”” Mesa said of her home run. “”I had yet to make good contact with Monica and she threw me the same pitch probably 50 times prior to that. I stepped out of the box and told myself that she wasn’t going to throw it by me again, and I hit it.””

Unlike last year, the Wildcats had to face much adversity as they took their journey towards another national championship. The Wildcats survived five elimination games to win the title, just the third team to accomplish that feat in 26 years.

“”For me, (the national championship win) confirmed that they have grown up and matured,”” Candrea said. “”Just their approach to the game and their approach for the preparation is huge. . . . They kept calm, they kept their cool, and they kept composed and they believed.””

Extra Bases

Fox, Leles, Lowe, and Mowatt were named to the 2007 WCWS All-Tournament Team. . . . Mowatt was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. . . . This years WCWS marked the most attendance in the history of the tournament with a total of 62,463 fan coming through the gates. . . . The Wildcats are the first team to win back-to-back championships since the 2003 UCLA Bruins. . . . The championship marks Arizona’s eighth. They trail only UCLA – who has 10 – for most all-time NCAA softball titles.

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