Cats Cruise Past Cornell in Five

May 21, 2010

TUCSON -- Arizona banged out 12 hits and got solid pitching from freshman ace Kenzie Fowler to take a 9-0 victory over Cornell in first-round Regional action in the NCAA Softball Championships here at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium Friday night.

Lauren Schutzler punctuated the contest with a walk-off home run in the fifth.

The Cats (44-11) will play Hofstra (44-10) in winner's bracket action in Game 3 at 2 p.m. for the berth in Sunday's championship game. Cornell (37-14) will play Oklahoma State around 4:30 p.m.

Arizona jumped on Cornell pitcher Elizabeth Dalrymple quickly. Brittany Lastrapes walked and Lauren Schutzler and K'Lee Arredondo singled to load the bases. Stacie Chambers drew a walk to drive in the first run, An out later Lini Koria did the same, and then Kristen Arriola singled to the gap in left to make it 3-0. Dalrymple settled down and got a popout and ground ball to strand three Wildcats.

Ali Tomlinson had a one-out single for Cornell in the second, and after a second out, Devon March beat out a ground ball to pitcher Kenzie Fowler, who then walked Vanessa Leonhard to load the bases. Fowler bore down and struck out Erin Keene to strand three Big Red.

Chambers followed a two-out single by Arredondo with a double to plate a fourth run in the UA second. Brigette Del Ponte socked her 21st home run of the season to make it 6-0.

The Cats threatened to get something going in the third, but Cornell second baseman Erin Keene turned a double play to stop the momentum,

Tomlinson singled again in the fourth, the four hit off Fowler, who was pulled from action last week against UCLA with a shoulder nerve problem, but who appeared comfortable in the circle.

Baillie Kirker singled to lead off the fifth, Lastrapes hit an RBI double and Schuzler socked a two-run home run for the run-rule margin, 9-0.

The Cats have now won 23 consecutive NCAA Championships openers.

(NOTE: A foul ball hit the live web cast computer, knocking the production off the air for the last three outs.... Apologies)


Cornell Coach Dick Blood

Opening statement: 'We were overwhelmed by Arizona's lineup moreso than the stadium and the fans. Arizona played a clean game out there. We settled down after the first couple of hits.'

On Arizona's pitching:'They threw really well early in the game. Their pitching was effective, but I think we made good adjustments. Kenzie is tough and as quick as anybody we've seen.'

Cornell player Elise Menaker

on playing in Arizona's environment:'It's very different than what I'm used to but I found it to be very exciting and new. We embrace it, but it's definitely something that takes getting used to.'

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea

On game:The toughest game a lot of times is the first one, you know, in any tournament. We came out and did what we needed to do. Kenzie was out there and looking good and we got Sarah a chance to test her knee out.'

'You take it any way you can. You just need to take a look around the country, there is a lot of parity out there. You can't put the cart before the horse and there is a still a lot of softball left to be played. We can only control what we do and do it well.'

On Kirker's hitting:'You live and die by kids going through what she's gone through this season. It was just a mater of getting her a good pitch and a good swing. Hopefully this builds her confidence and helps her play well through the rest of the tournament.'

Kenzie Fowler - Freshman Pitcher

On returning from injury:'I was a little nervous on how I would throw. It was a nice to get out there with a clean mind. There was a reason I took the week off.'

'I felt great the last two days. My arm feels rested and it's a good place for me to be going into the biggest part of the season.'

On moving forward:'It just sends a message that every game shouldn't be taken lightly. This is a great place to play. Hopefully it gets our momentum going through the rest of the tournament.'

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Game 1: Hofstra 8, Oklahoma State 6

TUCSON -- Hofstra outlasted Oklahoma State in an 8-6 hit-fest to win first-round Regional play in the NCAA Softball Championships here at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium Friday evening.

The teams combined for 24 safeties, plus errors helped bring in runs for both squads.

Hofstra (44-10) advances to play the winner of the Cornell-Arizona game at 2 p.m. (MST/PDT) Saturday. Oklahoma State (43-15) will play the loser of the second game, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Hofstra had runners in scoring position in both the first and second innings, but OSU pitcher Kat Espinosa got a groundball the first time and a strikeout in the second to stop the threats.

The Cowgirls had a leadoff single by Julie Ward in the bottom of the second, but a hit-and-run try by Tamara Brown was a liner turned into a 4-3 double play. Sam Heinlein and Megan Castle followed with singles, and Chelsea Garcia drew a walk to load the bases, but HU pitcher Olivia Galati (24-7) got a fly ball from Kelsey Anchors to strand three.

A couple of errors and a big hit helped OSU take a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Mariah Gearhart singled and stole second, then advanced on a throwing error by second baseman Jess Hirschbuhl, who then misplayed a ground ball by Alysia Hamilton that drove in one run and let her reach second. Ward then followed with a three-run home run down the left field line.

Hofstra got something going quickly, with singles by Tessa Ziemba and Jess Hirschbul to open the Pride's fourth. Trisha Dreslinski hammered one to left for her second home run of the year to trim the lead to 4-3.

In the Hofstra fifth, two walks and a hit batter by OSU reliever Anna Whiddon loaded the bases. Becca Bigler singled in the tying run and a wild pitch by Whiddon put Hofstra in the lead. Dreslkinsi hit into a fielder's choice and pinch-hitter Christie Novatin lined to short to stop the rally.

The Pride took advantage of a bad play in the sixth and extended the lead. .Kris Root and Senatore opened with singles and an out later, a single up the middle by Sara Michalowski moved both up, but Senatore ran to third where Root had stayed. The relay throw from first baseman Ward sailed past third and allowed both runners to score while Michalowsi advanced to third. Ziembra hit a sac fly to make it 8-4.

Castle opened the OSU half of the inning with a singel, and Garcia doubled to put both in scoring position and chase Galati in favor of reliever Erin Wade (21-9). Pinch-hitter Taylor Marcum hit a sacrifice fly to plate a run and Mariah Gearhart singled in another to make it 8-6.


Oklahoma State Coach Rich Wieligman

On game:'It was just a tough game and I felt like our team played with a lot of fight.'

'We had a chance to tie the game there in the end. We jumped up four and I knew they were going to come back. Despite what I thought was a good effort, we just didn't come up with it there in the end.'

On error at third base:'I thought we made the right read for sure; we just didn't make the right play.'

On going forward:'We just got to play an extra game. We have to win two tomorrow to play on Sunday. They are up for it. They're ready to go.'

Julie Ward - OSU Sophomore 1B

On hitting:'It was definitely a hitting game. I thought everyone on the team had a good approach. We weren't waiting for the game to come to us. We were just going out there and getting it.'

Hofstra University

Opening Statement: Coach Bill Edwards'Players like this (referring to Trisha Dreslinski) make me keep my job. When we kick around, we respond back, which is what we've been doing all year. It's never how many we get, but it's when you get 'em.'

On play in 6th inning: 2 runners on 3rd at the same time'We planned it,' he kids. 'The 2nd runner had her head down. We were very fortunate to get a couple runs out of an unfortunate situation. It was a bad play on our part, but was the turning point of the game.'

On play at the bottom of the 3rd'This team is incredibly resilient. All we needed were those key hits. We are a very confident team. We come out and play.'

On changing pitchers'We rotate our pitchers back and forth, back and forth. The impressive thing about these girls, is that they are young (one being a freshman, one a sophomore). They'll find their way to battle.'

Trisha Dreslinski on her home run'I just needed to get my hands out there. The next pitch was right there quickly, and I just needed to get my hands out.'

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