The Women’s College World Series will go on without Arizona for only the second time since the 1987 season.
Oklahoma was the dominant team at the Tucson Super Regional, making nearly every key pitch and getting nearly every key hit, and eliminating the Wildcats with a 5-2 victory at Hillenbrand Stadium on Saturday. Lini Koria hit a two-run home run for Arizona with two outs in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough.
The Sooners won 6-0 on Friday night in the best-of-three regional.
For Arizona coach Mike Candrea, it ends a personal streak of 21 consecutive appearances at the World Series, dating to the 1988 season, his third with the Wildcats. He was coaching the U.S. Olympic team in 2004 when the Cats, led by interim head coach Larry Ray, lost in regional play.
Arizona, in two games at the Super Regional, were 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Oklahoma swept four games from Arizona this season, winning by a combined score of 27-6.
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Arizona, after failing to cash in on its scoring opportunities, is now losing touch with Oklahoma. The Sooners have put up three runs in the bottom of the fourth — and are still batting — with Destinee Martinez getting a key hit by bouncing a two-run double past first baseman Lini Koria down the right-field line.
OU leads 5-0 and is looking to do more damage.
(But the Sooners, despite having the bases loaded and one out, doesn’t get any more runs … so it stays 5-0 after five innings.)
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Cats keep knocking on the door, but can’t knock it down. With runners on first and third, Becca Tikey, who came in for injured Brittany Lastrapes, strikes out to the end the top of the fourth.
Oklahoma still clinging to a 2-0 lead. Can UA pitcher Kenzie Fowler keep Arizona close?
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Arizona senior Brittany Lastrapes is out of the game — ESPN is saying she suffered a broken bone in her hand when she was hit by a pitch last night — with Becca Tikey taking over in right field, and right fielder Lauren Schutzler going to left field.
Lastrapes has bunted in her two at-bats today, clearly uncomfortable at the plate.
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Another squander for Arizona. The Cats get something cookin’ with two-out singles by Brigette Del Ponte and Stacie Chambers. Lini Kori worked the count to 3-2, when OU pitcher Keilani Ricketts was called for a delay, the penalty for which is a ball. So, Koria walked to load the bases.
Maybe the Cats actually would have preferred having her bat in that RBI situation. Kristen Arriola followed and popped out to first base to end the inning.
That is the third time in the past two games Arizona has left the bases loaded.
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It’s the kind of start Arizona had to absolutely avoid. Oklahoma pitcher/slugger Keilani Ricketts continues to assert herself as the best player in the Tucson Super Regional, drilling a pitch to the opposite field for a two-run home run in the first inning.
Going to the second … Sooners up 2-0.
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More frustration for Arizona in the top of the first inning, carrying over from last night’s game. Lauren Schutzler leads off by beating out a high bouncer to shortstop, and she goes to second on a sacrifice bunt.
But there would be no key hit for the Cats, as Brigette Del Ponte fouls out to first base and Stacie Chambers grounds out to shortstop.
Arizona is 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the Super Regional.
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A couple of changes in the Arizona lineup. First baseman Baillie Kirker is out, with designated player Lini Koria moving to first. Sophomore Matte Haack joins the lineup as the designated player, taking Kirker’s spot at No. 9 in the lineup.
Lauren Schutzler, normally the No. 2 hitter, is batting leadoff today for Brittany Lastrapes, who drops down one spot. Lastrapes was hit on the right wrist by a pitch in last night’s game and might not be 100 percent.
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We’ll find out what kind of fight the Arizona softball team has after losing the opening game of the best-of-three Super Regional, 6-0 to Oklahoma on Friday night.
The Wildcats need to win twice today.
After the loss Friday night, UA coach Mike Candrea said, “I think a lot of it depends on oru mindset. When you can the first game (Saturday) to even things up, I think it really sways the momentum. … It can happen. It’s just a matter of coming out and playing.”
If Arizona does win the first game today, the third game could turn into a contest of conditioning with temperatures around 100 degrees.
Check back here during the game for updates and analysis.