Koria, Arredondo Save the Day in Win

May 23, 2010

TUCSON -- A two-run triple by K'Lee Arredondo tied it in the bottom of the 12th, and a grand slam home run by Lini Koria closed it out moments later to give Arizona an improbable 10-6 victory over Hofstra and the NCAA Regional title.

The three-hour and 40 minute game featured a bunch of moments by both teams. It was UA's third-longest tournament game in history. Arredondo's triple off Olivia Galati (26-7) in the bottom of the 12th to tie, and Hofstra gave UA catcher Stacie Chambers and third baseman Brigette Del Ponte their first intentional walks of the season to load the bases. Koria then slugged the first pitch over the right-center wall to end the game.

A fresher pitcher nearly made a difference for Hofstra as Galati and a big 12th inning helped the Pride take a 6-4 lead and appear to force a second game in the Tucson Region tournament. Hofstra knocked UA starter Kenzie Fowler out after her 204th pitch of the contest. Sarah Akamine (13-5) won in relief, facing two batters. Galati pitched the last seven and a third innings for Hofstra.

Arizona improved to 46-11, while the Pride, Colonial Athletic Association champs, closed their season at 45-12.

Arizona earned the host bid in next week's Super Regional, to be played either Thursday-Friday or Friday-Saturday. The NCAA will announce later this evening. Tickets for the Super Regional will be available to UA season ticket holders online beginning this evening through 5 p.m. Monday, with public tickets available starting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Pinch-hitter Matte Haack slugged a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to save Arizona's chances at victory. It was her first hit since April 23 and first homer since March 12.

The Pride jumped on Fowler in the first, with a leadoff infield single by Kris Root, a sacrifice by Michele DePasquale where Root beat the throw to second to put two aboard, a sacrifice by Sara Michalowski to move both runners up and a two-run double by Tessa Ziemba. Those were the first runs scored off Arizona in the regional.

The Cats answered in the bottom of the first, plating three runs of its own. Brigette Del Ponte drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to left field - her 75th RBI of the season. UA got two more runs when Lini Koria's fly ball was misplayed by Hofstra right fielder Tessa Ziemba for a three-base error.

Arizona threatened in the bottom of the fifth, as the first two hitters reached base. Following a Hofstra pitching change, Olivia Galati pitched out of the jam by forcing two infield ground outs and a foul pop.

Galati singlehandedly tied the game in the top of the sixth as she led off the frame with home run to left field. She had begun pitching in the UA fifth.

The Pride threatened to score the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh. DePasquale drew a leadoff walk and an out later Ziemba also walked to put two on. A ground-out to second put two runners in scoring position, but Fowler got another infield out to strand two. Karissa Buchanan led off the UA seventh with an infield single. Lastrapes popped to Galati and Lauren Schutlzer lined into a 5-3 double play to send the game to extra innings. It was UA's first extra-inning NCAA Regional game since 2005.

K'Lee Arredondo singled to open the UA eighth, bring up the heart of UA's batting order. But Chambers flied to center and Del Ponte struck out. Arredondo stole second, but Koria tapped back to the circle.

Hofstra's DePasquale led off with a double to open the ninth. UA first baseman Baillie Kirker made a heads up play and started a run-down to pick her off after a ground ball by Michalowski. Ziemba singled to right and Buchanan misplayed it to allow Michalowski to reach third and Ziemba second.

Fowler struck out Jess Hirschbuhl for the second out, but Kirker dropped the ball on a throw from Arredondo at short to allow Galti to reach on an error and the go-ahead run by Michalowski to cross for a 4-3 lead.

Haack's blast tied the game at 4 with one out in the ninth, but Galati retired two afteward to send it to the 10th,

Hofstra mounted a threat in the 10th. Fowler hit pinch-hitter Christie Novatin with one out, and she moved to second on a wild pitch. The Pride's leadoff batter, Root, struck out. Hofstra pinch-ran Rachael Senatore at second and UA answered with an intentional walk to DePasquale to set up the force play. Michalowski took an outside pitch for a called third strike.

Hirschbuhl singled with one out in the 11th, but Fowler started a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. Galati struck out Del Ponte and Koria, both swinging for the fences, but Kristen Arriola singled up the middle. Kirker tapped back to the circle.

Dreslinski, Crews and Root had singles to load the bases with one out in the Hofstra 12th, and this time DePasquale had a half-swing RBI single to left to put the Pride on top, 5-4. Michalowski drew a walk to make it 6-4, and that was it for Fowler.

UA brought in Akamine. She got a force at the plate for the second out and a force at third to retire the side.

The Cats' winning rally started with an infield single by Buchanan, a single by Schutzler and then Arredondo's triple.


Arizona Coach Mike Candrea

On game: 'I woke up as sick as a dog and I feel a whole hell of a lot better now. That was probably the best performance I have seen as far as grit, fight and the never give up from the people out there.'

'For K'Lee (Arredondo) to come up as a senior and embrace the moment and come through in the clutch was huge. And with Lini (Koria), I told her 'Let's do one for (Lini's late mother)' and boom. It was remarkable.'

'It was one of the greatest wins. For the time, for what the game meant and for the situation we were in, it was one of the biggest games since I've been here.'

On Matte Haack's homer: 'I've been trying to do everything to get Baillie (Kirker) going. I knew at that moment that I wasn't going to roll the dice any more and wanted to get another look. (Matte's) a young lady you're going to see in the lineup for a long time.'

K'Lee Arredondo - Senior Shortstop

On game: 'It's amazing when another team scores and we somehow manage to answer. This team has a lot of pride and a lot of passion. I said that we were going to win it now or win the next game and we won it now.'

'I think it shows everyone what we can do from behind. They score two and we could have quit then but we came back and won. I think it just gives us that confidence to know that offensively we can always come back.'

Lini Koria - Sophomore DP

On grand slam:'Coach came up to me and said do it for Charlene (Koria's late mother) and I was already thinking that. I just take it one day at a time. I have found a great foundation here with the coach and the team and having someone to remind me that pathway, to want to go out and do something whether it's a home run or whatever is just important.'

Hoftsra Coach Bill Edwards

'It was a barn burner. It was an absolute great game.'

On opportunities for the win: 'We had a lot of opportunities early. We tried to advance our runners, but we just couldn't get it early, even once the game was settled and we had our rhythm going. Those were two great pitchers going at it. We competed, we battled, and we played hard.'

On Arizona's play: 'They are a world-class team. There's no easy out with them. They were definitely prepared. If our pitch missed one spot, there was trouble. They definitely played a phenomenal game.'

On length of game: 'We have had many meaningful games during our seasons, but we have never played a game to this extent (referring to the 12 inning final). The length of the game was definitely beneficial. We had better opportunities.'

On the seniors: 'The seniors mean everything to this team; everything. We are a family now. They took the freshmen under their wing, reinforced what I would say, and made sure that they exceeded the standards of Hofstra Softball.'

Michele DePasquale - Senior First Baseman

On keeping pitcher, Olivia Galati calm... 'We just kept reminding her that she was playing a great game. We told her that we are there for her defense.'

Kris Root - Senior Outfielder

On the end of the season...'This is the closest team that I have ever played on. No one wanted to see the season come to an end; not just because of the seniors, but because of everyone.'