OKLAHOMA CITY -- The No. 4 seeded Texas softball team stayed alive at the Women's College World Series by posting a 1-0, 11-inning victory over third-seeded Arizona in an elimination bracket game at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the victory, Texas (49-12) knocked Arizona (45-12) out of the tournament and ended the Wildcats' season.
Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas), the USA Softball National Player of the Year, threw the complete game in the circle, striking out 19 batters, the second-highest total in WCWS history. Osterman (30-7) threw a four-hitter with six walks and won her second extra-inning game against the Wildcats of the season.
U of A had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the 11th before Osterman forced a shallow fly out, not far enough to score the runner from third, and struck out designated player Jennifer Martinez on a 2-2 count to end the game.
The Longhorns advance to play another game on Sunday night where they will face UCLA (38-18) in an elimination game at approximately 7 p.m. on ESPN2, as the game will follow the other elimination bracket game that pitted SEC foes Tennessee and Alabama against each other. Texas is 2-0 against UCLA this season with a pair of eight-inning shutouts against the Bruins this season. UT won, 3-0 on Feb. 27 at the Palm Springs Classic, then came back with a 1-0 victory in Los Angeles at the Bruins' Easton Stadium on March 15.
After a scoreless regulation through seven innings, Texas and Arizona battled into several extra frames. UT, the designated visitor in the game, had lead-off base runners in three of the four extra innings, but until the 11th, was unable to push anyone past second base.
In the 11th, leadoff batter MicKayla Padilla (Cedar Park, Texas) drew a walk off Arizona ace Alicia Hollowell. After a fly-out, Chez Sievers (Mission Viejo, Calif.) singled, moving Padilla to second. The next UT batter, Desiree Williams (Tucson, Ariz.), blooped a soft fly into shallow right field.
Padilla, running all the way on the play from second, stopped halfway between third and home when Arizona right fielder Allyson Von Liechtenstein fired a strike to the plate. Padilla, caught in a rundown, took three steps back to third and drew a throw from catcher Jackie Coburn to third. Padilla then broke to the plate, and the throw home by Schultz hit Padilla in the shoulder, sending the ball off line from home and allowing Padilla to score with the game's lone run. On a fielder's choice one batter later, Sievers was tossed out at home, and Holloway got the third out on a strikeout to hold Texas to just one run.
In the bottom of the 11th, Arizona's Caitlin Lowe beat out a leadoff infield single on a chopper to the mound and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Osterman then walked the next two Wildcat batters, loading the bases with one out. Osterman dug down and forced Schultz to fly out to short right field - with no chance of the runners advancing. With two outs, the game ended when Osterman got Martinez to strike out swinging, giving the Horns the extra inning victory.
Hollowell (31-9) absorbed the loss, pitching the final 9.2 innings in relief of starter Leslie Wolfe. Hollowell allowed the one unearned run and surrendered five hits, striking out 11 and walking one.
In the 10th inning, Osterman led off the inning with a strikeout of Schultz before she walked Martinez. Texas catcher Megan Willis (Chandler, Ariz.) threw her out at second base attempting to steal, but then Osterman followed with back-to-back walks to put a runner in scoring position for Arizona for the first time all game. However, Osterman got herself and the Horns out of the jam when she struck out Von Liechtenstein for the final out of the game.
Texas had the first real scoring threat of the game in the second inning when Williams led off with a walk before moving to second on Wynter Turner's (San Pedro, Calif.) single. Hollowell, got Arizona out of the jam unscathed when she forced a pop up to third and struck out Jacqueline Williams (Arlington, Texas) to end the inning.
POSTGAME NOTES & QUOTES
· Texas advances for a 5 p.m. matchup with UCLA Sunday evening. Arizona is eliminated from the WCWS and finishes with a season record of 45-12. It marks the first season since 1993 the Wildcats have not claimed a 50-win season.
· Wildcat pitcher Leslie Wolfe made her shortest start of the year, lasting only 1.1 innings. Wolfe's previous short mark was 2.0 innings against Birmingham Southern (2/25/05). UA's Alicia Hollowell posted her longest period of relief work this season by going 9.2 innings out of the bullpen. Her previous high was 3.2 innings of relief against Michigan (3/20/05).
· With UT's Cat Osterman and UA's Alicia Hollowell registering 30 strikeouts combined, it broke a WCWS record for most strikeouts by both teams in a single game (the previous record of 28 was set by Northwestern and UCLA in 1984).
· The game marked the second time this year that Arizona and Texas went into extra innings against each other. Arizona fell to 4-2 in extras while the Longhorns are now 7-3. The Wildcats played their second consecutive game in extra innings after beating Cal 3-2 in 12 innings Saturday. It was the first time this year UA played two straight extra-inning games.
· In 21 innings played against each other this season, neither Texas nor Arizona allowed an earned run. Both teams met March 17 in the Kia Klassic with the Longhorns posting a 1-0 (10 innings) victory.
· UA's Caitlin Lowe became the first Arizona lefthander to collect a hit against Osterman this season. Prior to today, the Wildcat lefties had gone 0-for-16 against Osterman. Lowe singled three times today and finished the year with 100 hits. Lowe entered the WCWS on a 14-game hitting streak, but was hitless in the two WCWS games prior to today.
· Today's matchup marked the 12th meeting between the teams with Arizona leading the series 7-5. Despite 24 combined WCWS appearances by the teams, today's game marked the first time the Wildcats and Longhorns have met in the WCWS.
· Arizona's pitching staff only allowed one earned run in the postseason (59 innings).
· With 19 strikeouts, UT's Osterman has fanned at least 11 batters in all 33 games she has started. Osterman is 11 strikeouts away from moving into second place in the NCAA record books for career strikeouts (she has 1,629). Courtney Blades (1997-2000) from Nicholls State and Southern Mississippi holds the Division I record with 1,773.
· Osterman's 19 strikeouts tied for second most in a WCWS game. Debbie Doom of UCLA (1982) holds the record with 20 against Oklahoma State (10 innings). LSU's Britni Sneed fanned 19 batters in 2001 versus Oklahoma (13 innings). Osterman also recorded her 22 shutout of the season and owns a record of 30-7 this season.
· UT's Desiree Williams collected her 33rd walk of the season in the second inning, setting a single-season record at Texas.
HEAD COACH Connie Clark
General comment: It was just one of those games that was a grind. Cat (Osterman) was fresh at the beginning of the game, but we wore out pretty good today. She was phenomenal as far as staying in the now and continuing to come back. That's a good sign that we're trying to play pitch to pitch and staying patient. I think the team did a better job than I did today of staying in the now.
That was a win that we just had to grind out. Arizona is obviously a quality club, and they went to (Alicia) Hollowell. She threw very well today, so it was going to come down to who could grind it out. I'm proud of the team for staying in the mindset they needed and to grind it out.
On MicKayla Padilla scoring in the 11th after a rundown: We knew that if we had an opportunity, especially if the ball was hit to the right side, that we were going to send her home. MicKayla did a very good job because she had to make sure that ball was down and because there was one out. There was a little hesitancy there because she had to make sure the ball was down. But we wanted to send her.
We were going to be aggressive there and try to force some action. In a game like that, you have to do that. So she did a tremendous job. I was sending her, and she was going hard. She knew that throw was on the money and thought her best opportunity was to try to get in a run-down and make something happen. She did a good job with the decision-making there.
JUNIOR CAT OSTERMAN
On the bottom of the 11th inning: Caitlin (Lowe) led off with a great hit. It's hard to make a play on her when she's at bat. I was just pitching for outs. I didn't care about strikeouts. Arizona is a good ball club, and they put the ball in play. When (Jennifer) Martinez came up to bat, I was just thinking about making her put it in play and not get it off. We actually came up big.
The key to that inning was (catcher) Megan Willis. I was trying too hard and trying to put my pitches a little too far in. She came out and said, 'Trust me.' I went with her calls and didn't shake anything off, and it worked out.
FRESHMAN Desiree Williams
On playing against Arizona's Caitlin Lowe: Caitlin is hitting over .500, and with her speed, that's incredible. As a defender, you don't want to play deep, but you don't want to play up. There are a lot of things you don't want to do, so you just have to stand your ground.
FRESHMAN MICKAYLA PADILLA
On her rundown in the 11th inning: Seeing where the ball was hit, I knew it was going to be a really close play when I was coming in. When I saw the throw coming in, I didn't want to just run in and get the play at the plate knowing that I was going to be thrown out. I decided to give myself a better chance by getting in a rundown and using my feet to try to make something happen. When the catcher didn't throw it back to third, then threw it back to third, I was just thinking of going home all the way.
HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA
General comment: Well, obviously a very difficult time for us. I thought we played our hearts out. We had to make a decision early in the game. Alicia (Hollowell) came in (in the second inning) and did everything we asked her to do, like she's done all year, and gave us a chance. We had some chances and we couldn't get it done. I've seen the ball bounce crazy a couple of times and both times it's kind of cost us ball games, but you know, this group has a lot to be proud of. I love the way they battle. I love the way they compete. They've come a long way since February and obviously we all want to end on a high note and unfortunately there's usually one team that feels that way at the end of this. It was a battle and as a coach there is not a darn thing I could be ashamed of or mad about. This team played hard and Texas came out on top and we didn't.
In a game like that, I felt that if we had any chance of getting speed on base that we were going to force the issue and try to get someone into scoring position. The odds of getting two base hits in a row aren't very good, so you've got to take a gamble with your legs and we've got some kids who can run. So we were trying to put ourselves in a position every chance we could to try to score a run.
It was a tough game. These kids played their butts off. You know they competed and battled and today we were just short.
JUNIOR ALICIA HOLLOWELL
On if she noticed Texas being more patient as the game wore on: A little bit - but they're still very aggressive hitters and they would still chase after the first pitch. I use all my pitches at any time and as long as I hit a good spot it should work.
SOPHOMORE KRISTIE FOX
On Cat Osterman's walks late in the game: Cat's a really good pitcher and she throws a lot of junk. That's how she gets batters out - she gets you to swing at her pitch. Toward the end of the game we were learning that.