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Softball: Cats ride big win into Women’s College World Series

UA’s bats come alive in third game vs. LSU

Arizona's Adrienne Acton safely slides into third past LSU's Andrea Smith in the second game at Hillenbrand Stadium on Saturday. LSU won the first game 3-2, but UA won the second 14-5 to win the super regional.

Arizona's Adrienne Acton safely slides into third past LSU's Andrea Smith in the second game at Hillenbrand Stadium on Saturday. LSU won the first game 3-2, but UA won the second 14-5 to win the super regional.

There shouldn’t be many surprises for Arizona at the Women’s College World Series.

The Wildcats have played six of the other seven teams in the field this season and saw plenty of the other team, Tennessee, at last year’s WCWS. The Vols’ Monica Abbott, now a junior, threw a one-hit shutout against UA in a first-round game.

Arizona is 2-1 against this season’s first-round opponent, Oregon State, including an 11-2 win in the regular-season finale May 13, when the Beavers did not use ace Brianne McGowan.

The teams will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday Tucson time (ESPN2) in the opening game of the Series. The Beavers advanced to the WCWS on Sunday by winning two games against California in a best-of-three super regional in Corvallis, Ore.

“I’m proud of these kids, I really am,” UA coach Mike Candrea said after Saturday night’s 14-5, five-inning victory clinched the best-of-three super regional at Hillenbrand Stadium.

“We got the job done, and that is what is important right now. Hopefully, we can jump on a wave and ride it.”

LSU made things interesting by holding on to win Saturday’s first game 3-2 to even the series. The Wildcats scored two in the seventh off Emily Turner, and while they couldn’t finish the comeback, they took that momentum into the second game.

Kristie Fox got things started with a two-run homer in the first, then hit a grand slam in the second. She added RBI singles in the third and fifth.

“We came out a little flat in the first game, and we talked in the middle and we were, like, ‘You know what? We are not going home today. We are going to jump all over this team because they should not have been on the field with us in that game,’ ” Fox said.

“Everyone contributed, and it was really great.”

Fox was one of three Wildcats who went 4 for 4, the others being Taryne Mowatt and Autumn Champion. Arizona had a season-high 18 hits.

Alicia Hollowell struggled a bit to close the door on the mercy-rule victory, allowing two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth.

Even so, Arizona won easily to advance to its 18th WCWS in the past 19 years. The Wildcats have won six national titles, the last coming in 2001.

“Every time you go through it, it gets tougher and tougher,” Candrea said. “Those last outs, I tell you, it takes every last breath out of you.”

Notable
● The winner of the Arizona-Oregon State game will face the winner of the Texas-Arizona State game. That winners bracket game is set for 4 p.m. Tucson time Friday.

The losers of those opening-round games will meet in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Tucson time Saturday.

● UA this season against the other teams at the Series: Arizona State (2-1), Northwestern (1-0), Alabama (1-0), Texas (1-2) and UCLA (0-3).

● Hollowell struck out seven LSU batters Saturday night, giving her 1,701 in her career. That is third on the NCAA career list, behind Texas senior Cat Osterman and former Southern Miss pitcher Courtney Blades.

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