Cats Forge Comeback Victory In Softball World Series

May 25, 2001

Women's College World Series - Second Round, May 25, 2001

b>Cats' Pull Out 5-4 Victory

OKLAHOMA CITY--Arizona's softball team clawed back from a five-inning 4-0 deficit to defeat defending NCAA Champion Oklahoma and stay unbeaten in Women's College World Series action here Friday.

'Anything I say would be an understatement,' UA coach Mike Candrea said afterward. 'I've seen this team do some amazing things. When we were down, I didn't see panic, I saw determination. I'm really pleased with the way our kids competed -- that means the most to me,' he said.

UA pitching ace Jennie Finch withstood a 10-hit OU attack, struck out nine and extended her perfect season to 31-0 and a personal winning streak to 39 consective games. More importantly, she kept OU from scoring in the last four innings while the Cats were mounting their comeback.

Arizona took the lead for the first time in top of the eighth with an unearned run. Nicole Giordano led off with her third single of the game, and Toni Mascarenas moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Leneah Manuma was walked intentionally. Then on Jennie Finch's grounder to second baseman LaKisha Washington, Manuma was forced at second but shortstop Kelli Braitsch threw the ball away trying for the double play, and Giordano scored.

The Sooners stranded two runners in the seventh and three runners in the final inning. In the eighth, Finch gave up consecutive singles by Jennifer Stamp and Erin Evans, then an out later walked Leah Gulla to load the bases. UA shortstop Allison Andrade made a long throw to cut down Washington at first for the final out.

Arizona (63-4) moved into semifinal action Sunday while Oklahoma (50-8) dropped to a loser's bracket contest at 8:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Louisiana State-Iowa game.

The come-from-behind victory extended the club's winning streak to 24 games and snapped OU's similar streak at 23.

Jennifer Stump's 11th home run of the season staked Oklahoma to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Lisa Carey led off with a walk and was forced at second by Lisa Carey. Ashli Barrett drew a walk, then Stump went the opposite way on a 2-1 pitch from Jennie Finch and knocked it over the right-center fence.

Light-hitting second baseman LaKisha Washington hit a solo home run, her second of the year, to give the Sooners a 4-0 lead in the fifth.

A largely Oklahoma partisan crowd of 7,422, the second-highest total in WCWS history, watched OU pitcher Jennifer Stewart keep UA's hitting attack, one of the most powerful in the country, off balance until the sixth inning, when Erika Hanson started a rally with a slap hit. An out later, Giordano slapped a hit into left-center then Toni Mascarenas socked her 24th home run of the year and second in as many games, to put UA on the board.

'There weren't many fans pulling for Arizona,' Candrea said. 'Oklahoma is an outstanding team. It was a tremendous college softball game.'

Mascarenas said she was looking for a ball she could hit hard in the sixth. 'We needed to score some runs one at a time. I just wanted to hit something hard, she said.

'Any little step they gave us, we'd take,' Giordano said of scoring the winning run on the error. 'Last year I had a chance to score from third on a similar play here against Oklahoma, but didn't. I saw the ball loose this time and just hoped they wouldn't get to it before I reached the plate,' she said. 'We're never out of a game.'

One big hit which kept UA in the game was when freshman rightfielder Mackenzie Vandergeest hit a solo shot to right, her 20th home run of the year, to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the seventh.

'It was an outside pitch. 'I just wanted to get on base and give us a chance,' Vandergeest said.

The OU homers, only the fifth and sixth allowed by her all season, pushed the total of earned runs Finch has allowed in two College World Series games to six -- but her record is 2-0 and the Cats are still in the winner's bracket.

OU pitcher Jennifer Stewart took the loss, dropping to 37-4. She had beaten UA 1-0 in the 2000 College World Series, in a defeat which eliminated the Cats. Sooner first baseman Lisa Carey hit a solo home run to provide the only run.


                       NCAA College World Series Softball                          Arizona Wildcats vs Oklahoma Sooners                  May 25, 2001 at Oklahoma City (Porter Hall of Fame)

Arizona Wildcats 5 (63-4) Oklahoma Sooners 4 (50-8)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI --------------------------------------- --------------------------------------- Lauren Bauer cf............ 4 0 0 0 Kelli Braitsch ss.......... 4 0 2 0 Nicole Giordano lf......... 4 2 3 0 Christy Ring lf............ 4 0 2 0 Toni Mascarenas 3b......... 3 1 1 3 Lisa Carey 1b.............. 4 1 0 0 Leneah Manuma dh........... 3 0 0 0 Ashli Barrett c............ 3 0 0 0 Jennie Finch p............. 4 0 1 0 Jaime White pr............ 0 1 0 0 Lindsey Collins c.......... 3 0 0 0 Jennifer Stump rf.......... 4 1 3 3 M. Vandergeest rf.......... 3 1 1 1 Erin Evans cf.............. 4 0 2 0 Allison Andrade ss......... 3 0 0 0 Mandy Fulton dh............ 4 0 0 0 Erika Hanson 1b............ 3 1 1 0 Leah Gulla 3b.............. 3 0 0 0 Lisha Ribellia 2b.......... 0 0 0 0 LaKisha Washington 2b...... 4 1 1 1 Stewart p.................. 0 0 0 0 Totals..................... 30 5 7 4 Totals..................... 34 4 10 4

Score by Innings R H E ------------------------------------------ Arizona Wildcats.... 000 003 11 - 5 7 1 Oklahoma Sooners.... 000 310 00 - 4 10 1 ------------------------------------------

E - Mascarenas(8), Braitsch(14). LOB - Arizona 4, Oklahoma 8. HR - Mascarenas(24), Vandergeest(20), Stump(11), Washington(2). SH - Mascarenas(7). SB - Stump(7). CS - Washington(3).

Arizona Wildcats IP H R ER BB SO WP BK HP IBB AB BF FO GO ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jennie Finch W,31-0....... 8.0 10 4 4 2 9 0 0 0 0 34 36 5 9

Oklahoma Sooners IP H R ER BB SO WP BK HP IBB AB BF FO GO ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stewart L,37-4............ 8.0 7 5 4 2 8 0 0 0 1 30 33 11 5

Strikeouts - Bauer, Giordano, Manuma 2, Collins 2, Andrade 2, Braitsch, Ring, Barrett, Stump, Evans, Fulton 2, Gulla, Washington. Walks - Manuma, Collins, Barrett, Gulla.

Umpires - Start: 6 p.m. Time: 2:31 Attendance: 7422 Game: 67

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