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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Despite injury to star, softball takes super regional opener with comeback”

    The No. 1-seeded Arizona softball team entered the super regionals Saturday expecting a tough series against Cal State Fullerton.

    But what the Wildcats didn’t expect to see was a first inning that would yield five runs to the Titans and a nose injury to Caitlin Lowe – their three-time All-American senior center fielder – that would force her to leave for the remainder of the game after slamming into the center field wall.

    In spite all of their first inning woes, the Wildcats (43-12-1) used three home runs to storm back and take the first game of super regionals, beating Cal State Fullerton 11-6 in front of 2,193 at Hillenbrand Stadium. The biggest comeback victory of the season puts Arizona one win away from its 19th Women’s College World Series berth in 20 years.

    “”I just told them you just got to keep believing, keep taking your cuts and getting runners on base and we can get back into this ballgame,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “”Sure enough we came back, and it was a very, very good victory for us.””

    Despite not having their best player on the field after Lowe left in the first with an injury to her face, the Wildcats began to chip away at the five-run deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning. Catcher Callista Balko put Arizona’s first runs on the board with a three-run homer to left field that brought the Wildcats within two runs.

    In the following inning, first baseman Laine Roth took an outside offering from Titans ace Candice Baker (21-13) over the right field wall with two aboard to give Arizona a 6-5 advantage.

    “”It was amazing,”” Roth said of her go-ahead home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. “”Coach told me to swing it like I mean it. It was an outside pitch, and I love outside pitches, so I hit it.””

    After eclipsing the Titans (38-22) lead in the fifth, the Wildcats added a five spot in the sixth to break the game open. Third baseman Jenae Leles hit a two-run line drive home run to right center field immediately after shortstop Kristie Fox hit a two-run double to left center.

    The Wildcats were aided by CSF’s troubles in the field, as the Titans committed five errors. Arizona tallied only eight hits while scoring 11 runs, taking advantage of base runners who reached off of the Titans’ mishaps.

    Of the 11 Arizona runs scored off of Baker, only two were earned.

    “”We respect that ball club,”” Titans head coach Michelle Gromacki said. “”Errors killed us and walks. I have always said that an error plus a walk equals a home run. I’m not going to take anything away from their hitters, but we have a lot better defense than that.””

    Ace Taryne Mowatt (35-10) got the nod in the super regionals opener. Mowatt uncharacteristically struggled in the opening frame, as she allowed five runs to cross the plate on five hits and a UA error.

    .The Titans’ Lauren Lupinetti and Crystal Vieyra both had two-run hits, and Katie Gollhardt added an RBI single.

    Despite Mowatt’s early struggles, she was able to get back on track, allowing only one more run to cross the plate for the remainder of the game. The Corona, Calif., native struck out eight batters and walked three.

    Mowatt allowed four earned runs Saturday evening after not allowing a single run in the three regional games May 18-20.

    “”I just had to keep my composure out there after the first inning,”” said Mowatt, who earned her fourth consecutive postseason complete-game victory. “”I knew that our offense would come around, and they just put up the runs for me.””

    The second game of the super regionals will be played Sunday at noon. The third game will be scheduled to start at 2:30 if the Wildcats fall in Game 2.

    Extra bases
    Saturday’s super regional opener was aired on ESPN. Sunday’s games will be televised on ESPNU. ….CSF’s five errors was a season high. … After leaving the game in the first inning and not returning for the remainder of the contest, the Lowe’s status remains doubtful for the remainder of the weekend. … Arizona is 26-0 when scoring six runs or more. … Arizona is 19-1 when its opponent commits multiple errors. … Arizona is now 31-0 when leading after the fifth inning.

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