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NCAA softball: Pac-12 sends Arizona, Oregon and UCLA to super regionals

UCLA Athletics

UCLA and Arizona joined Oregon in the super regionals with Sunday victories in the regional finals, while Arizona State, Utah and Washington ended their seasons in the regional finals in NCAA softball tournament action. The Pac-12's three representatives in the super regionals are the second-most of any conference behind the SEC's eight.

UCLA

Ally Carda three-hit the Aztecs and UCLA batters hit four home runs in an 8-0 six-inning victory over San Diego State in the Los Angeles regional final. Advancing to the super regionals for the second year in a row, seventh-seeded UCLA will host 10th-seeded Missouri with a trip to Oklahoma City on the line.

Stephany LaRosa’s three-run blast in the top of the sixth put the game in run-rule territory, and the Aztecs couldn’t break through in the bottom half to force at least one more inning of play.

Delaney Spaulding led off the game with a solo shot to right to give the Bruins all the offense it would need against San Diego State, which was making its eighth straight trip to the NCAA postseason. Carda drew an RBI walk to give UCLA a 2-0 in the second before Gabrielle Maurice’s two-run bomb put it further out of reach in the fifth.

Kylee Perez added more insurance with a solo homer in the sixth before LaRosa’s three-run dinger. It was LaRosa’s third home run in as many games in regional action this weekend.

The Aztecs loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, but a would-be wild pitch resulted in Leia Ruiz being thrown out at home as she tried to advance on the ball that got past catcher LaRosa. The Aztecs did not get another runner past second base the rest of the game.

Carda struck out two and walked three in six shutout innings, lowering her ERA to 2.14 in the process.

Arizona

Kellie Fox’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth pushed 12th-seeded Arizona to the super regionals in a 7-6 victory over Minnesota to cap a wild and crazy Sunday night in Tucson. The Wildcats will face fifth-seeded LSU in Baton Rouge next weekend.

In a decisive game filled with late-inning drama, Minnesota catcher Taylor LeMay hit a two-out, three-run homer to cap a four-run seventh and give the Gophers a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the inning. Minnesota scored all four of its runs when it was down to its last out. Overall, the Gophers scored all six of their runs with two outs.

But Arizona quickly responded in the bottom half of the inning thanks to Chelsea Goodacre’s opposite-field two-run blast with nobody out. Arizona got a runner to third with two down but couldn’t bring her home.

After the Wildcats got out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the eighth, Chelsea Suitos hustled her way to a one-out triple in the bottom half, setting the table for Fox’s walk-off.

Trish Parks got the win for Arizona, re-entering for Michelle Floyd in the top of the eighth after being replaced by her in the second.

Fox went 3-4 with the game-winning RBI, while lead-off hitter Hallie Wilson went 3-5 with a home run and two batted in for the Wildcats.

The Gophers struck once in the first on Phoenix native Kaitlyn Richardson’s RBI-double and once in the second on Sam Macken’s RBI single to go up 2-0, but Hallie Wilson’s solo homer sparked a three-run third to put Arizona ahead 3-2.

The teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth, when Wilson blooped one into right to drive in Eva Watson. The Wildcats still had the bases loaded with one out but were unable to tack on more insurance.

Minnesota had runners on the corners with one out in the fifth, but Floyd got Hannah Granger to line out to short and LeMay to pop up to end the inning.

One of the powerhouses of college softball, Arizona has advanced out of regional play for the 25th time in the last 27 years.

In the first game of the day between Arizona and Minnesota, Gopher outfielder Paige Palkovich hit a walk-off grand slam with one out in the bottom of the seventh to beat host Arizona 5-2 and force another game to decide the winner of the Tucson regional.

Arizona tallied runs in the top of the third and fourth thanks to run-scoring hits from Kellie Fox and Ashleigh Hughes and was two outs away from advancing to softball’s Sweet 16 before Palkovich blasted one over the left center field wall.

Washington

Washington lost to Alabama 11-1 in the Tuscaloosa regional final, thus ending the Dawgs’ season. The Crimson Tide will host a super regional against the winner of the Norman regional (11th-seeded Oklahoma or Texas A&M).

Batting first, Alabama scored one run in the first, two in the second and three in the third to separate itself from Heather Tarr’s squad. The Tide had a chance to take an eight-run lead and potentially run-rule the Dawgs in the top of the sixth, but Kylee Lahners threw out Chandler Dare at home as she was trying to tag up from third on a fly-ball out.

Tide hurler Alexis Osorio dominated the Dawgs, allowing just two hits, one walk and one unearned run. Casey Stangel’s RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to cut it to 7-1 was the first and only run allowed by Alabama in the regional stage this year.

Alabama tacked on three more in the seventh, capped by Danielle Richard’s two-run homer. The Tide hit four home runs as a team, with Haylie McCleney jacking two. Jennie McNeill got Washington’s only other hit outside of Stangel’s RBI knock.

Washington set a new school record with 86 home runs in the 2015 campaign. The Dawgs also broke single-season records in runs, RBI and walks.

There wasn’t much drama in the Tuscaloosa regional; five the six games were decided by at least eight runs. The closest game was Washington’s 4-1 win over USC Upstate on Friday.

Arizona State

Struggling all regional long at the plate and nearly costing her team the game earlier, LSU shortstop Bianka Bell hit a walk-off, two-out RBI single in the ninth inning to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory over Arizona State and send LSU to the super regionals. It was LSU’s second victory of the day over Arizona State.

Arizona State was two outs away from winning in regulation, but a one-out RBI double by Bailey Landry in the bottom of the seventh sent the game to extras.

It looked like Landry would deliver the game-winning hit, but her hit to the right side of the infield caromed off A.J. Andrews, making her out as she tried to reach second base and setting the table for Bell's late-game heroics.

The Sun Devils took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh on an unconventional play. With runners on first and third and one out in the seventh, Haley Steele lined one sharply to short. Bell thought she caught it cleanly and threw to third for what she thought would be an inning-ending double play, but the umpire ruled that the ball bounced into Bell’s glove, thus allowing Chelsea Gonzales to score from third.

LSU took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to RBI singles from Kellsi Kloss and Sandra Simmons, while Arizona State tied the game in the top of the third when Sierra Rodriguez hit an RBI groundout and Gonzales smacked an RBI single.

Arizona State pitcher Breanna Macha was a warrior all regional long, giving up three earned runs in 8.2 innings of work against the Bayou Bengals in the second game. Amber Freeman went 2-3 at the plate for the Forks.

Arizona State lost to LSU 5-0 in the first game of the day.

LSU broke open a 2-0 ballgame with one run in the top of the sixth and two in the seventh, with Constance Quinn’s two-run double giving LSU an insurmountable 5-0 edge.

Arizona State was held to four hits but loaded the bases with just one out in the bottom of the second. Bayou Bengal pitcher Carley Hoover got No. 9 hitter Jennifer Soria to pop up and Sierra Rodriguez to line out to thwart the threat.

Arizona State finished up the regional 1-2 against LSU, beating the Tigers 1-0 Saturday.

Utah

Utah’s 2015 postseason run came to a close in a 3-1 loss to eighth-seeded Tennessee in the Knoxville regional final. The Utes finish up season at 36-19, making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. Tennessee advances to the super regionals, where it will host ninth-seeded Florida State.

The Lady Vols got all the offense they needed with Meghan Gregg’s two-run homer with one out in the top of the first. The Utes cut it to 2-1 on Heather Bowen’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the second and had runners on second and third with one out after Mariah Ramirez doubled to follow Bowen’s hit. However, Shelby Pacheco whiffed on a 1-2 offering and Maddy Woodard grounded out to short in succession to end the inning.

The Utes did not get another hit off Tennessee pitching after the second inning.

Tennessee added an insurance run in the sixth when Lewis singled in CJ McClain.

Katie Donovan went 5.1 innings and allowed five hits, two earned runs and one walk while striking out three Lady Vols. Sammy Cordova pitched 1.2 innings, giving up three hits, three walks and one run while striking out one.

Bowen and Ramirez were the only Utes to register a hit, while Kate Dickman and Bridget Castro got on base via walks.

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