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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Softball: Arizona stamps ticket to World Series

Pitcher Sarah Akamine high fives head coach Teresa Wilson after getting out of the fourth inning during the Wildcats 10-2 win over the BYU Cougars Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Pitcher Sarah Akamine high fives head coach Teresa Wilson after getting out of the fourth inning during the Wildcats 10-2 win over the BYU Cougars Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The Arizona Wildcats advanced to the their 23rd Women’s College World Series after defeating the Brigham Young University Cougars in a best of three series at the Tucson Super Regional.

Arizona won Game 2 of the series to eliminate the Cougars 10-2 in five innings on Saturday.

The day began with a scare for the Wildcats when freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler went down with what head coach Mike Candrea described as a sore, bruised forearm in the first inning. BYU’s J.C. Clayton sent a line drive off of Fowler’s pitching arm, causing her to leave the game and get X-rays at McKale Center during the game.

“”Kind of an interesting start with Kenzie (Fowler) getting hit but once again our mental toughness has paid off,”” said Candrea. “”Sarah (Akamine) walked in and kept her composure and did a great job.””

Senior pitcher Sarah Akamine (14-5) came into the game and only allowed two runs, four hits, and struck out five in her relief appearance. BYU only made it through its batting order two full times.

Arizona was able to contian Angeline Quiocho in both games on the weekend. In Game 2, the nation’s RBI leader was again silenced. She went 0-for-3 on Saturday and 0-for-4 on Friday.

“”It’s taken me this long to get ready and get prepared and the team backed me up,”” Akamine said. “”I stepped up and the team stepped up behind me and it’s just a great feeling.””

Offensively, the Arizona bats were not fooled in Game 2. Although the Cougars started pitcher Christine Zinanti (11-3), the Wildcats chased her from the circle in third inning after they retook the lead when sophomore Lini Koria walked with the bases loaded to score center fielder Lauren Schutzler in the third inning.

Koria’s appearances at the plate would be ones of practiced patience in Game 2. In her three appearances, two were with the bases loaded. Koria walked every time she was at bat.

Zinanti would be charged with seven walks, and five runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work.

Game 1’s starter Paige Affleck would make a relief appearance, but she too would be traded in favor of another pitcher after Arizona tacked her for seven hits and five runs.

Pitcher Hannah Howell got the last out of the fourth inning, but the damage had already been done. The Wildcats plated five runs in the fourth, giving them the 10-1 advantage that would close the door on BYU’s first ever Super Regional appearance.

BYU pitching walked a combined nine Wildcats, giving Arizona the opportunity to get the big hits at the right times.

“”We finally got the bats unglued, got some timely hits and put some runs on the board. It was a great game for us,”” Candrea said.

Second basemen Kristen Arriola had four RBIs on the day for the Arizona, including a double that drove in Koria and third baseman Brigette Del Ponte in the fifth inning.

First baseman Baillie Kirker drove in Arriola with a single to center field to cap the scoring for Arizona.

“”It was bases loaded when I was up,”” Arriola said. “”I just wanted to put the ball in play. Just put the ball on the ground somewhere, somewhere hard so the defense would have to make a play.””

The Cougars’ defense did not help in the effort to stay alive. Two errors allowed the Wildcats to extend their scoring in the fourth and fifth innings.

Arizona will see action for the third consective weekend in the postseason. The Wildcats will take on the No.15-seeded University of Tennessee Volunteers on Thursday. Times are still to be determined.

“”I think that’s the thing about this team; you get in the post season and beginning next week it’s a grind,”” Candrea said. “”It’s a grind not only physically and emotionally, but you have to play one pitch at a time.””

 

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