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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    It’s simple: win or go home

    The Womens College Wolrd Series is held at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.
    The Women’s College Wolrd Series is held at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.

    Women’s College World Series

    OKLAHOMA CITY – In a room below the stadium seats behind home plate, three Arizona softball players and interim head coach Larry Ray sat at a high table with blue skirting around it and faced the media Thursday night.

    About 20 minutes had passed since the Wildcats lost 1-0 to UCLA in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The players -Callista Balko, Sam Banister and Taryne Mowatt – were quiet as they looked out to the media. Beyond the media were 8-foot-tall cardboard displays boasting standout moments of WCWS history. Many of the images were of the Arizona Wildcats.

    But now the back-to-back defending national champion Wildcats were with their backs against the wall – literally and figuratively. One more loss in the double-elimination tournament and they’ll go back to Tucson, finished for the season.

    “”I guess we put ourselves in the worst position possible,”” said UA outfielder Adrienne Acton. “”All we can do is come back from here.””

    This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen. It was anticipated that Arizona would go far in the WCWS again. And they assumed it would come, too.

    “”Being back-to-back champions, we just expect to go out there and dominate,”” Bannister said. “”And if we don’t have the energy to go out and do it then it’s not going to happen.””

    The Wildcats were in better spirits during a short practice Friday afternoon. They smiled, they laughed and they hit the ball well – all things that were missing in the loss against the Bruins.

    Arizona, a No. 7 seed, fell to the losers’ bracket after the loss and takes on No. 3 seed Alabama at 1 p.m. local time Saturday. Alabama lost 3-1 to No. 6 seed ASU Thursday night after a very controversial fair-foul call that gave the Sun Devils the go-ahead run.

    To get past the Crimson Tide, who feel like they were slighted by the umpire’s call, the Wildcats have to “”keep throwing punches at them,”” Acton said.

    “”We can take (the loss to UCLA) one of two ways and the way I hope we take it is that it ticks us off,”” Balko said. “”I think our team does the best when our backs are against the wall. … Hopefully we take this energy and turn it into a positive and look at what we don’t want to feel.””

    Arizona will be led by Mowatt (29-14) and if it gets to play Saturday night and twice on Sunday to get to the championship series, Ray will still most likely go with Mowatt – who showed she could go the long road after pitching in eight games over seven days in last year’s WCWS.

    “”We’re going to take it game by game and obviously I don’t want to wear her out, but it will be a situational-type thing,”” Ray said. “”If we can get her a break then I will look at it seriously.””

    Kelsi Dunn (25-5) is expected to get the nod for the Crimson Tide.

    Though it is seeded higher, Alabama knows it won’t be easy to get past Arizona, given the Wildcats’ history.

    “”Now we have a challenge ahead of us,”” Alabama first baseman Charlotte Morgan said after the loss to ASU. “”We just have to play more games. We have the endurance and we have no doubts in our minds.””

    Added Alabama third baseman Kelley Montalvo: “”We are known as a comeback team. We’ve just got to work a little bit harder, take each game one at a time. It is hard working from the bottom up. … So now we are going to come back and fight and just make it all the way to the top.””

    History isn’t completely on Arizona’s side, though. Only two teams – Texas A&M in 1983 and UCLA in 2003 – have come back to win the world series after losing the first game.

    “”We have a huge target on our backs,”” Balko said.

    But the Wildcats are in a very similar position to the one they were in last year when they won their opening game, lost to Tennessee and fought back to get into the championship series against Tennessee, where they lost that opener before winning it all.

    It’s been done before.

    “”Why not us?”” Ray asked.

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