No. 2 seed Arizona drops Softball from Women's College World Series winner's bracket with 2-0 win
OKLAHOMA CITY -- No. 2 tourney seed Arizona scored the game's only runs in the bottom of the sixth, turning a single, two steals and a Texas error into the scoring opportunities, as the Wildcats posted a 2-0 victory over No. 3 seed Texas in a second-round game of the Women's College World Series winner's bracket Friday night in front of 5,887 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The Wildcats, who were eliminated from last year's WCWS by the Longhorns, mustered just that one hit - a single to left - off Texas senior lefthanded ace Cat Osterman. Osterman (38-3) struck out 13 and walked two, yielding one earned run.
The loss snaps UT's NCAA Championship win streak at six games, and sends the Longhorns (55-8) into the elimination bracket in the double-elimination national championship tourney. Texas will now play on Saturday, June 3 at 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPN against the winner of the No. 1 seed UCLA-No. 5 seed Alabama game. That game is a loser's bracket game and takes place Saturday morning at 1 p.m. (Central). Arizona, now 51-10, has a day off and returns to play on Sunday, June 4 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent in Game 11 at noon.
The two squads had played scoreless ball through the first five and one-half innings in a pitching duel featuring Osterman and Arizona senior righty Alicia Hollowell. In that span, the Longhorns had three hits, including a first-inning double and fourth-inning single by senior second baseman Chez Sievers, while Osterman held the Wildcats hitless while striking out 10 of the first 17 Wildcat batters she faced.
In the bottom of the sixth with one out, Osterman hit leadoff batter Caitlin Lowe. Osterman then fanned Autumn Champion before Lowe stole second, her team-high 31st theft of the year. The next batter, Kristie Fox walked to put runners on first and second, with Kelly Nelson pinch-running for Fox. Wildcat catcher Callista Balko then singled through the left side, and when UT leftfielder Shannon Thomas misplayed the ball, letting it slide under her glove and behind her, Lowe came home to score to make it 1-0 while Nelson moved to third.
With Janae Leles at the plate, Nelson at third and pinch runner Danielle Rodriguez at first, the Wildcats tried a delayed double steal, with Nelson breaking for home and Rodriguez to second. UT catcher Megan Willis' throw to second gave Nelson the opportunity to score for the 2-0 edge. It was Nelson's fifth stolen base of the year. Osterman then got Leles on a swinging third strike to end the inning.
In UT's last at-bat, the Longhorns put together a two-out rally when rightfielder Amber Hall reached on a bunt single. She was stranded at first when Hollowell got Kacie Gaskin on strikes to end the game.
In the contest, both the Longhorns and Wildcats left three on base.
Hollowell, now 29-4, picked up the win. She registered a four-hit shutout, fanning nine and walking none.
Texas had two hits in the first four innings, both by Sievers. In the first, Sievers ripped a two-out double off the left field fence, but was stranded. In the fourth, she laced a single to right field with one out. After Hollowell retired the next Longhorn, Sievers was thrown out attempting to steal second for the final out of the inning.
In the top of the fifth, freshman designated player Kacie Gaskin reached on a one-out check-swing chopper which dribbled down the first base line and stayed fair. After a strikeout, Gaskin stole second, but Hollowell retired the side when Crystal Saenz lined a hard shot to second baseman Chelsie Mesa.
· In her career, Osterman is now 5-2 against the Wildcats, and had won her last five games (the last four via shutout) against U of A prior to tonight's loss. Prior to tonight's 2-0 loss, Osterman had yielded just four runs (all earned) to Arizona in 50.1 innings of work, allowing just 16 hits. All-time against Arizona, Osterman has now pitched 56.1 innings, giving up 17 hits while striking out 119 and walking just 13.
· UT's Chez Sievers went 2-for-3 against Arizona and has collected four hits in her last six at bats. Sievers was the lone player in the game to record an extra-base hit with her two-out double in the top of the first. It marked her 10th double of the season and 13th extra-base hit.
· Arizona had entered the game with 71 steals in 79 total attempts. They were four-for-four against the Longhorns in steal attempts.
· Arizona claimed its first win against UT's Osterman since Jennie Finch beat the Longhorns with a 3-0 shutout on Feb. 8, 2002 - in the second game of Osterman's freshman season. Additionally, it was Alicia Hollowell's first victory over Texas in her career.
· Prior to her single in the bottom of the sixth that led to Arizona's first run of the game following an outfield error, Arizona's Callisto Balko had been 0-for-9 with nine strikeouts in her career against Osterman.
· Texas lefty Cat Osterman, a three-time USA Softball Player of the Year, recorded her 14th one-hit game of the season. It marked Osterman's first loss this season when giving up one hit.
But, you have to credit Arizona for that. They did a good job with that. We just have to not hang on to this for too long. We have to get geared up for the next one. We just need to keep our heads up and take it one game at a time."
On facing UCLA or Alabama Saturday in an elimination game...
Texas senior pitcher Cat Osterman
Texas senior second baseman Chez Sievers
Texas junior catcher Megan Willis
Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea
I told the kids earlier today to remember back in '91 when we were facing a young lady that was undefeated coming into the College World Series. We had one hit and I think they had two or three, and we ended up winning the game one to nothing. I was very pleased with the way our kids kept their composure and kept fighting. When we had a chance to try and make something happen, obviously we weren't banging the ball around the ballpark. The lady sitting next to me here on my right, (Alicia) Hollowell, threw a great ballgame. I told them today that we need to match them pitch for pitch, play by play and get a timely hit. That's exactly what we did today."
On the importance of the win...
Any loss in the College World Series is tough. Any win at the College World Series is huge and there is no better feeling. The thing you have to realize is there is no time to enjoy it. You have to get ready for the next one. That's going to be our challenge -- to stay focused."
Arizona Senior pitcher Alicia Hollowell
Arizona junior centerfielder Caitlin Lowe
Arizona sophomore catcher Callista Balko