Cats Clinch Pac-10 Softball Title
May 11, 2001
A stadium-record overflow crowd of 3,004 watched top-ranked Arizona clinch the Pacific-10 Conference softball championship with a 4-0 victory over No. 2-ranked UCLA Friday night.
UA pitcher Jennie Finch scattered six hits and struck out seven to improve to 27-0. She outdueled Bruins ace, Keira Goerl (24-2), who lost for only the second time this year. Arizona managed only eight hits off Goerl, but three of them were home runs.
Finch helped the Cats take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly. Lauren Bauer and Nicole Giordano reached on infield singles, and moved up on a groundout by Toni Mascarenas before Finch hit a fly deep enough for Bauer to beat the throw to the plate.
UCLA threatened with two runners in scoring position in the second after a walk by Claire Sua and a double down the rightfield line by Courtney Dale, but Finch struck out Amanda Freed and got Toria Auelua to foul out beyond the Arizona dugout.
Mascarenas lined her 19th home run of the season with two outs in the fourth, followed by Leneah Manuma's homer, a liner to right, to stretch the lead to 3-0. Mascarenas' shot smashed out the rear window of a team vehicle parked 50 beyond the 200-foot left-field fence.
Manuma hit another two-out solo blast in the fifth to give her 19 homers for the season as well. The home runs extended UA's single-season NCAA record to 111.
UCLA shortstop Natasha Watley had three of the hits off Finch, all singles.
Arizona took a three-game lead with two games to play, with a 17-2 Pac-10 record. The Bruins, who play at Arizona State tomorrow in a doubleheader, dropped to 14-5 in league play and 53-5 overall. UA will play host to the Washington Huskies in a doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday to close the regular season.
UA's eight senior players -- Bauer, Mascarenas, Giordano, Becky Lemke, Lindsey Collins, Erika Hanson, Allison Andrade, and Teresa Demeter were cited in Senior Night ceremonies after the game. The group has been part of a team which has won 234 games the past four years and won Pac-10 titles in 1998 and 2001.