Finch Softball One-hitter Beats ASU, 1-0

May 25, 2002

OKLAHOMA CITY - Jennie Finch retired the last 13 batters in throwing her fourth one-hitter of the year and an eight-inning shutout victory over Arizona State, 1-0, to put Arizona into the Women's College World Series semi-final.

Finch kept the Sun Devils off the bases from the end of the fourth inning on in recording a career-high 33rd victory of the year in a game that took two hours to play -- but actually 18 hours because of weather problems. Finch held Arizona State (45-19) to its lowest hit total of the year in throwing her 21st shutout.

A severe thunderstorm had suspended play Friday night at the end of the third inning, moving the game's conclusion to Saturday morning. Rain early Saturday pushed the scheduled start back an hour to 11 a.m.

Finally, an infield ground-out by Mackenzie Vandergeest in the top of the eighth gave the Wildcats (53-11) the run it needed.

Arizona State had the first hit and scoring threat, in the second inning. Phelan Wright drew a walk off Jennie Finch and with one out moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Erin Wardhein. Kristin Farber beat out an infield single and Wright moved to third, but Adriana Garcia hit a sinking fly ball to right field and Meaghan Finnerty made a shoestring catch to end the inning.

The Sun Devils put two runners on in the third. Nichole Thompson drew a two-out walk and Kara Brun reached on an error by UA third baseman Jackie Coburn. But Finch struck out All-American Wright to end the threat.

Arizona opened action after the overnight delay with a scoring threat and its first hits in the game. Finch singled with one out but was forced at second by Leneah Manuma. Vandergeest singled to left. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, but ASU's Erica Beach struck got out of the jam on a called third strike to Coburn.

With one out -- after Finnerty made another running catch in right -- in ASU's half of the inning, Finch hit Erin Wardhein with a pitch. She was forced at second by Kristen Farber, who then stole second to move into scoring position. But Finch struck out Garcia to end the inning.

Jung singled to lead off the UA sixth, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Courtney Fossatti and to third on a ground-out by Finch. Beach pitched around slugger Leneah Manuma, walking her, but got Vandergeest to pop up to second.

A good play by Jung helped UA in the Sun Devil sixth. With one out Phelan Wright hit an apparent single off Coburn's glove at third, but Jung was backing up on the play and made the throw to first in time.

A sudden rain shower halted play for 30 minutes again after the completion of seven innings. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the top of th eighth with a leadoff walk to Jung, a single by Fossatti, a sacrifice bunt by Finch and an intentional walk to Manuma. Vandergeest drove in Jung with a 1-6-4 fielder's choice off Beach's glove.

Arizona only collected four hits off Beach (32-14), but kept the pressure on with nine base runners. The Sun Devils stranded five. Finch walked two, struck out nine and hit a batter.

The next round opponent for both teams was to be determined by later Saturday play. UA will play either Michigan, Nebraska or Florida State on Sunday. ASU was to play the winner of the UCLA-Oklahoma game Saturday evening.

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