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Tucson softball regional: Arizona beats NMSU; Chambers homers again

Arizona beats New Mexico State 8-0 as sophomore pitcher Kenzie Fowler does what she needs to do when she needs to do it.

Fowler allowed eight hits, walked three and hit two batters, but she struck out a season-high 15 batters to avoid trouble. NMSU stranded 12 runners.

Arizona will play in Sunday’s noon game in the double-elimination regional, having two chances to win one game in order to advance to next week’s Super Regional action, which would be held at Hillenbrand vs. the winner of the regional being played at Norman, Okla.


Game 1, 4 p.m. — New Mexico State 9, Texas Tech 0 (5 innings)
Game 2, 6:30 p.m. — Arizona 10, Harvard 0 (six innings)

Game 3, 2 p.m. — Arizona 8, New Mexico State 0
Game 4, 4:30 p.m. — Texas Tech vs. Harvard
Game 5, 7 p.m. — New Mexico State vs. Winner Game 4

Game 6, noon — Arizona vs. Winner Game 5
Game 7, 2 p.m. — Repeat Game 6, if necessary

* * *

Going to the bottom of the seventh. Arizona adds to more runs after pitcher Alex Villalobos comes into the game for New Mexico State to make it an 8-0 lead. Krista Buchanan drove in a run with an infield hit and Alex Lavine sharply hits a sacrifice fly to center.

* * *

New Mexico State is on to its fourth pitcher of the game after Arizona chases Kelsey Schueler in the top of the seventh. Brigette Del Ponte led off with a double to left. Stacie Chambers walked and, one batter later, Kristen Arriola lined a double down the left-field line to drive in Del Ponte for a 6-0 lead.

* * *

Kenzie Fowler does it again, wiggling out of trouble in the sixth. With the bases loaded with one out, she strikes out the next two batters. Fowler has a season-high 13 strikeouts as the game goes to the seventh, Arizona leading 5-0.

New Mexico State has had a runner in scoring position in five of six innings, but can’t get the big hit.

* * *

Arizona extends its lead in the top of the fifth on another big blast. Brigette Del Ponte smashes a pitch from relief pitcher Alex Newman over the right-center field wall for a two-run homer. Lauren Schutzler had led off the inning with a bunt hit.

The Wildcats lead 5-0, and the Aggies go to their third pitcher of the day — Kelsey Schueler.

* * *

Moving along at Hillenbrand. Arizona still leads 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth. New Mexico State has run itself out of the past two innings, getting thrown out at third base in the second inning and then a caught stealing to end the third.

* * *

New Mexico State squanders an opportunity to score in the bottom of the second. Brittany Clifton singled sharply to left with two outs, and Teresa Conrad, who was on second, took a hard turn around third base.

Seemingly committed to going home, Conrad stopped halfway down the line … and Brigette Del Ponte cut off the throw from Lastrapes. Del Ponte threw in time to shortstop Alex Lavine, who applied the tag at third base.

It’s still 3-0 Arizona in the top of the third.

* * *

Kenzie Fowler gets in a bit of a trouble in the first, allowing a walk and a single, but she blows a rise ball past a swinging Hoku Nohara (23 home runs this season) for the second out and then goes outside to whiff Valerie Swedberg to end the threat.

* * *

Stacie Chambers quickly adds to her Arizona home run record, going opposite-field for a three-run shot in the top of the first inning against New Mexico State. Cats lead 3-0.

* * *

It’s a sun-drenched afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium, where Arizona will take on New Mexico State at 2 p.m. in a winners’ bracket game of an NCAA regional.

The winner advances to Sunday’s final. The loser has to play again Saturday night, and then sweep two games tomorrow.

So, yeah, it’s a key game.

Arizona is going with Kenzie Fowler, who got the win Friday night as Arizona beat Harvard 10-0. New Mexico State counters with Celisha Walker, and not Alex Newman, who threw a five-inning no-hitter Friday night against Texas Tech.

Check back here for updates and observations during the game …

One change in the Arizona lineup: Alex Lavine is at shortstop for Ashlee Brawley, who committed an error Friday night and went 0-for-2 with a walk.

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