NCAA Softball Regionals: Seven Pac-12 teams advance to Saturday's winners' bracket

All eight Pac-12 teams that were selected for the NCAA Softball Regionals hit the diamond on Friday around the country. Here's a recap of the Conference of Champions results from the day.

[Related: NCAA Softball Regionals bracket (NCAA.com)]

UCLA

UCLA - 8, Lehigh - 0 (5 inn. Los Angeles Regional)

The fifth-seeded Bruins opened up play with a dominant run-rule win behind Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year Rachel Garcia’s first-career no hitter. Garcia tossed eight strikeouts in five innings of work, sending the Bruins to the winners bracket.

Senior Delaney Spaulding led off the Bruin scoring with a solo shot in the bottom of the third inning. Brianna Tautalafua smacked a double to center field to score Kylee Perez, then Madeline Jelenicki homered to center field to score Tautalafua.

Neither Spaulding or Tautalafua were done hitting for the night, as Spaulding’s two-RBI double in the bottom of the fourth plated sophomore Zoe Shaw to put the Bruins up 6-0.

Tautalafua came to the plate in the final frame of the run-rule win and hit a solo shot of her own out of center field. UCLA ended the contest as Bubba Nickles’ sacrifice fly scored Imani Johnson for the eighth and final run.

UCLA advanced to the winners’ bracket and will face San Jose State on Saturday, May 20 at 2 p.m. PT.

Oregon

Oregon - 13, UIC - 0 (5 inn. Eugene, Oregon)

Maggie Balint flashed her typically dominant stuff off the mound, tossing a two-hit shutout en route to Oregon's 13-0 win over University of Illinois-Chicago Friday at The Jane. 

The Ducks' offense was relentless in support, scoring four runs through the first three innings and nine in the fourth alone. Six different Ducks tallied RBIs: Danica Mercado, Shannon Rhodes, Jenna Lilley, Gwen Svekis, Nikki Udria and Madi Bishop. 

Arizona

Arizona - 11, New Mexico State - 0 (Tucson, Arizona)

Katiyana Mauga kicked Arizona's 11-0 demolition of New Mexico State with her 90th career home run, tying the Pac-12 all-time record.

Mauga's two-run dinger set the tone for the rest of the evening: the 'Cats bats were on fire. The two-seed put the game out of reach with a seven-run third inning. Tamara Statman notched two more on with an RBI double and Deja Mulipola cranked a two-run homer to make it 6-0. The 'Cats got another pair of runners on base for Mandie Perez, who punched the team's third ball over the fence. The 'Cats had a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth. 

Arizona added two more for good measure in the fourth and loaded the bases for Mauga, who launched one inches short of the center field stands and a record-breaking 91st career homer. 

Danielle O'Toole and Taylor McQuillian combined for five shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 10 of the 18 batters they faced.  The 'Cats will face South Carolina May 20 at 2 p.m. PT. 

Washington

Washington - 8, Montana - 0 (5 inn. Seattle Regional)

The Huskies rode on the strength of sophomore pitcher Taran Alvelo, who dealt a no-hitter on eight strikeouts in five innings of work as her team run-ruled the Griz, 8-0.

Offensively, the Dawgs used a big third inning to put up a total of eight runs. Morganne Flores started the run-scoring flurry with an RBI double to plate senior Ali Aguilar. UW’s Taylor Van Zee came up to the plate and ripped a triple to score two Husky batters and the Washington lead up 3-0.

The Griz would change pitchers, but the Dawgs would put up five more runs off the bats of Trysten Melhart, Kelly Burdick (2 RBI) and a 2-RBI double from Sis Bates.

Utah

Utah - 3, BYU - 2 (Salt Lake City, Utah)

It seemed fitting that a Utah-BYU rivalry matchup in the NCAA Softball Regionals ended with a walkoff, the Utes coming from behind to edge the Cougars 3-2. The women from Provo struck first, scoring a run in the top of the second inning when BYU's Alex Strid singled up the middle to drive in Ashley Thompson. The advantage quickly evaporated when in the bottom of the second Bridget Castro doubled off the top of the wall in right field to score Anissa Urtez.

The Utes' Miranda Viramontes and the Cougars' McKenna Bull traded zeros until the top of the fifth. That's when BYU rallied to load the bases with one out. Thompson picked up an RBI single that scored Lauren Bell and gave the Cougars 2-1. It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh. 

Castro led off the bottom of the frame with a single for Utah before Heather Bowen promptly doubled her home to tie the score. A groundout by Kelly Martinez advanced pinch runner Aubrey Peterson to third with just one out. Hailey Hillburn then came to the plate to hit for Delilah Pacheco. She drilled a low liner that fell just in front of the Cougars' diving center fielder Brooke Vander Heide.

The Utes now play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. MT against the winner of the Salt Lake City Regional elimination bracket.

Arizona State

Arizona State - 9, North Carolina - 3 (Oxford, Miss.)

Arizona State knocked a quartet of home runs to open up NCAA Championship play with a 9-3 win over North Carolina on Friday.

The Sun Devils saw themselves in a quick deficit, as the Tar Heels put up three runs in the top of the first. ASU answered quick, however, with senior Chelsea Gonzales blasting a two-run homer past the tailgating canopies out of left field in the bottom of the same frame.

Three batters later, redshirt junior Margaret Stahm belted a homer of her own in the same spot as teammate Gonzales to put the Devils on top, 5-3.

The rain came down at Ole Miss Softball Complex and forced a 42 minute rain delay, but the break in play didn’t slow down the Sun Devils. Chelsea Gonzales came to bat in the bottom of the second and launched her second homer of the night to put Arizona State up 6-3. Gonzales recorded her 12th and 13th homers this season tonight. Not to be outdone, junior Brynley Steele belted a two-run homer of her own in the bottom of the third for the 8-3 lead.

ASU would put another run on the board in the fifth, as the Tar Heel pitcher walked Sashel Palacios with the bases loaded to score Nichole Chilson. Breanna Macha pitched a complete game in the circle and struck out five Tar Heel batters. The Sun Devils now advance to the winners bracket and will face the winner of Ole Miss/Southern Illinois on Saturday, May 20 at 11:30 p.m. PT/1:30 MT.

California

Cal - 6, Notre Dame - 2 (Auburn, Alabama)

Cal got the day started for the Pac-12 with a "W" as the offense overcame some early defensive errors to take down Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish jumped out early, plating a run in the top of the first with a two-out throwing error by the Golden Bears. Cal came right back in the bottom of the inning when Lindsay Rood's sacrifice fly scored Jazmyn Jackson.

The score didn't stay tied for long as ND took a 2-1 lead with an unearned run. Second baseman Kylie Reed threw wildly to first and was unable to complete a potential double play, allowing the Irish's Katie Marino to score. A familiar duo pulled Cal even again as Rood hit another sac fly in the bottom of the third to score Jackson.

In the fourth, the Golden Bears started to put some distance between themselves and Notre Dame, thanks again to Jackson. After Krysten McCue doubled in Vanessa Alvarez to take a 3-2 lead, Jackson launched a two-run homer to straightaway center to score McCue. Cal would score an unearned, insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to help put away the Fighting Irish.

The Golden Bears will now play the winner of Auburn-East Tennessee State on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. MT.

Oregon State

 

James Madison - 3, Oregon State - 2 (Waco, Texas)

The Beavs were one out away from sending their regional game against James Madison to extra innings. However, the Dukes walked it off on a bases-loaded drive to bump Oregon State to the elimination bracket Friday in Waco. Oregon State took a two-run lead on Natalie Hampton's RBI double in the first. The Dukes kept in it, loading the bases in the fourth and cutting Oregon State's lead to one with an RBI single. Lovie Lopez caught an attempted sac fly and mowed the runner down at home to preserve the lead. Here's the moment captured in two perfectly-timed photos:

JMU's Madyson Moran blasted a game-tying homer to set up her team's seventh inning walk-off moment. The Beavs will play the loser of a Kent State/Baylor matchup at 1:30 p.m. PT. 

 

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