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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball advances to regional finals after wins over Villanova and Arkansas

Arizona+softball+player+Regan+Shockey+throws+a+ball+to+a+teammate+on+Friday+Feb.+16+in+Rita+Hillenbrand+Stadium.+Arizona+went+5-1+in+the+tournament+and+making+them+10-1+on+the+season.+
Nathanial Stenchever
Arizona softball player Regan Shockey throws a ball to a teammate on Friday Feb. 16 in Rita Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona went 5-1 in the tournament and making them 10-1 on the season.

The Arizona softball team defeated Villanova University and No. 16 University of Arkansas in its first two games of the NCAA softball tournament on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, advancing the Wildcats directly into the regional final game.

After missing the postseason last season for the first time in 35 years, Arizona went 34-16-1 in this year’s regular season, earning the No. 2 seed at the Arkansas regional.

Day 1: Friday, May 17

Game 1: Arizona vs. Villanova at 3 p.m.

In game one, Arizona was the home team and sent Miranda Stoddard to start pitching for the Wildcats. The top of the first inning went fast, as Arizona got the first three batters from Villanova out.

The Wildcats then started strong in the bottom of the first, getting runners on base after key hits from the top of the lineup. After scoring 4 runs in the first inning, Arizona forced an early pitching change from Villanova. However, the change proved ineffective, as Dakota Kennedy, in her second at-bat that inning, hit a 2-run home run, adding to the Wildcats’ lead and making it 8-0.

The Wildcats again made quick work of the Villanova batters, only allowing one base runner in the top of the second inning.

In her second at-bat of the game, Carlie Scupin took the third pitch of her at-bat and hit a solo home run to center field, extending the Arizona lead to 9.

In the top of the fourth inning, Villanova finally answered the Wildcats after it loaded the bases and walked in its first run on Arizona’s freshman pitcher Brooke Mannon, who had come in at the top of the inning for Stoddard. Arizona then made the decision to put in Aissa Sliva to close out the inning, but not before Villanova scored 2 more runs.

It seemed all but over as the Wildcats forced Villanova to go to its third pitcher. Arizona scored 5 more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, making the score 14-3. With a quick top of the fifth inning, Arizona claimed its first postseason win in two years, forcing the 8-run mercy rule on Villanova.

Day 2: Saturday, May 18

Game 2: Arizona vs. No. 16 Arkansas at noon

In game two against Arkansas, Arizona was the away team. For its second game of the regional, Arizona continued where it left off the previous day, scoring 2 runs in the top of the first inning and jumping out to the early lead.

With bases loaded, Olivia DiNardo hit a sacrifice fly ball to score Regan Shockey from third base. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third base, Blaise Biringer hit a single through the infield, scoring the second run for the Wildcats.

As the defense came out for the first time, Arizona sent out Aissa Silva, who has been the workhorse for the Wildcats’ pitching this year due to injuries. The sophomore pitcher from Tucson came into the game with a personal record of 20-5 and an ERA of 3.11.

Silva and the Wildcats’ defense shut out the Razorbacks in the first inning. Then, in the second inning, the two teams began a pitching duel.

Although Arkansas would never pull its starting pitcher, Robyn Herron, a sophomore from Tampa Bay, Florida, the Wildcats would replace Silva with Mannon in the middle of the third inning.

Mannon, who saw only a couple of batters in the first game of the tournament before being pulled, closed out game two for the Wildcats, only giving up 1 run in the seventh inning after Arkansas’ Rylin Hedgecock hit a solo home run to center field.

Arizona held on to beat the Razorbacks 2-1 and advanced straight into the regional finals game on Sunday, May 19, for a rematch against Villanova at 1 p.m.


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