NCAA softball: Pac-12 teams undefeated so far
The Pac-12 wrapped up NCAA regional play Friday undefeated, as seven teams representing the Conference of Champions are a combined 8-0 play. Oregon is 2-0 and has moved on to the Eugene Regional championship, while every other Pac-12 team is 1-0 thus far.
A four-run fourth was all the Ducks needed as second-seeded Oregon held on for a 4-3 win over North Dakota State at Howe Field in Eugene. Oregon now moves on to the regional championship for a rematch with North Dakota State (Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. as well should the Ducks lose the first game).
Lefty Cheridan Hawkins backed up a 12-strikeout, one-hit effort in the circle Thursday night by striking out 11 and conceding just three hits to the Bison Friday. The only difference was two of those hits happened to leave the park. Cheyenne Garcia’s solo blast with two out in the first gave North Dakota State the lead, an edge that looked like it might hold for a while.
Hitless through the first three innings, Oregon finally got to Bison pitcher Krista Menke in the fourth with four consecutive hits to start the inning. Jenna Lilley put the Ducks on the board with an RBI single, while Hailey Decker put the Ducks on top with a double down the left field line and would later score on a wild pitch. Koral Costa’s solo blast capped the explosive inning that featured five of Oregon’s six hits for the game.
The Bison weren’t quite done yet, as shortstop Logan Moreland went yard with a runner on to get the Bison within 4-3 in the top of the sixth. Next, Garcia walked and the Bison had a runner on first with nobody out, but the next two hitters popped out and Garcia was called out at first for leaving the bag early to end the Bison threat. North Dakota State had a runner on second with one out in the seventh, but Hawkins struck out Tabby Heinz and Bre Beatty to end the game.
— Oregon Duck Softball (@OregonSB) May 15, 2015
Left fielder Janie Takeda went 2-for-3 and scored a run for the Ducks, who are now 17-0 in regional play under head coach Mike White. North Dakota State plays the winner of BYU and Fresno State for a chance to advance to the regional championship and get another shot at the Quacks.
Left fielder Taylor Van Zee’s solo shot in the bottom of the third put the Dawgs up for good in a 4-1 Washington win over USC Upstate in the Tuscaloosa regional. Washington advances to the winners’ bracket, where it will face host and sixth-seeded Alabama Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.
Lead-off hitter Kylee Lahners scored on a wild pitch as the Huskies drew first blood in the bottom of the first, but the Spartans evened the score when pinch runner Kendsey Chappelear slid under a tag at home plate off Cheyenne Griffin’s squeeze bunt.
Washington regained the reins in the third when Van Zee homered with one out and catcher Kimberlee Souza singled in another run with two outs. The Dawgs also tacked on an insurance run in the fifth when Souza launched an 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall.
Washington pitcher Kasey Stanchek held an Upstate attack that boasted the highest batting average in the Tuscaloosa regional to just two hits and three walks in her complete-game effort. Souza’s bat spoke the loudest for the Dawgs, as she went 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
— UW Husky Softball (@UWSoftball) May 15, 2015
The Atlantic Sun champion Spartans will now take on Fairfield in an elimination game Saturday after the Dawgs and Tide do battle.
Cal scored seven runs in the second inning and four more in the fifth in an 11-3 win over Pittsburgh in five innings Friday in the Ann Arbor regional. The Golden Bears will take on Michigan in the winners’ bracket Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Panthers scored two runs in the top of the second to take the lead, but Cal first baseman Kobie Pettis jacked a three-run homer to cap a seven-run bottom half of the inning to give Cal command of the game for good. Pitt inched closer in the top of the third with a solo blast from Jenna Modic, but Cal loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth to put itself in position to run-rule the ACC tournament runner-up. After a two-run double from Alleah Laxamana and an RBI single via Kylie Reed, Jazmyn Jackson finished off the Panthers with an RBI single of her own.
Jackson paced the Golden Bear attack with a 4-for-4 day and the run-rule-clinching RBI, while Laxamana and Reed both went 2-for-3 with a run scored and two driven in. Sophomore righty Katie Sutherland-Finch picked up her 19th win in the circle by holding the Panthers to three runs and five hits over five innings while striking out four.
Afterwards, it was time for a little grub.
Team dinner following today's win! pic.twitter.com/9yohVmhBQS
— Cal Softball (@CalSoftball) May 16, 2015
Making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006, Utah looked like postseason vets in a 6-1 win over Virginia Tech at the Knoxville regional. Utah plays Tennessee Saturday at 10 a.m. PT/11 a.m. MT.
The Utes got the bats going early, with reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week Kate Dickman taking Hokie hurler Maggie Tyler deep to right in the bottom of the first for her 11th round-tripper of the season. Utah tacked on three more in the third and two in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead. Meanwhile, the Hokies could only muster one run against Ute pitching, breaking through against relief pitcher Kayce Nieto in the sixth thanks to a solo blast from center fielder Lauren Gaskill.
First baseman Bridget Castro also homered for Utah, which won its first NCAA postseason game since going 2-2 in the Austin regional nine years ago. Dickman had a 2-for-3 day at the No. 2 spot in the order and boosted her team-leading batting average to .456.
Pitcher Katie Donovan got the win for the Utes, striking out six and surrendering just one hit in four innings of work. Nieto and Sammy Cordova combined to retire the last nine Hokies.
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) May 15, 2015
Bethany Kemp’s three-run double highlighted a five-run sixth-inning rally for Arizona State in a 5-2 comeback victory over Nebraska in the Baton Rouge regional. The Sun Devils move on to the winners’ bracket to face LSU Saturday at 9 a.m PT.
In a game that got off to a delayed start due to rain and was then delayed some more because of lightning in the sixth, Arizona State and Nebraska were scoreless until the Huskers notched two in the top half of the sixth thanks to an RBI sac fly from shortstop Alicia Armstrong and a run-scoring single from catcher Steph Pasquale.
Arizona State had registered just one hit by the time it came up to bat in the bottom half of the sixth and only needed three singles to score five runs in the inning. The big hit came from Kemp, who doubled with the bases loaded and two outs to give the Forks a 4-2 lead. Senior Amber Freeman drove in Kemp with a single up the middle, knocking out Nebraska starting pitcher Emily Lockman in the process. All five runs scored by the Forks were unearned.
Nebraska got a runner on in the seventh, but Arizona State pitcher Breanna Macha got pinch hitter Dawna Tyson to hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Macha was more than solid in the circle for head coach Craig Nicholson, scattering six hits and the two runs over seven innings of work.
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) May 16, 2015
Back-to-back home runs from Pac-12 Player of the Year Ally Carda and Stephany LaRosa spearheaded a pivotal five-run third in the seventh-seeded Bruins’ 9-1 five-inning run-rule victory over Big West Conference champion Cal State Northridge in the Los Angeles Regional. The Bruins advance to the winners’ bracket, where they will face Texas Saturday at noon.
The Matadors took a 1-0 lead off a two-out solo home run from Katie Hooper in the top of the first, but the Bruins homered three times in the third to take command. In addition to the back-to-back bombs from Carda and LaRosa, third baseman Mysha Sataraka went yard to give UCLA a 5-1 lead and chase NFCA First Team All-West Region pitcher Zoe Conley out of the circle.
The Bruins scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth to put itself in line to win after four and a half innings, capped off by Sataraka’s sacrifice fly to drive in Jessica Amaral.
Pulling double duty as she normally does, Carda allowed a two-out single in the top of the fifth before getting Katie Hooper to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
Carda was her usual two-time conference POTY self, driving in four runs at the plate and scattering four hits and two walks over five innings of work in the circle. Center fielder Allexis Bennett went 3-3 and scored twice for UCLA (she’s now hitting a whopping .521), while Sataraka went 2-2 with three RBI.
BRUINS WIN!!! 9-1 in five over CSUN in the Regional opener. Bruins face Texas tomorrow at Noon.
— UCLA Softball (@UCLASoftball) May 16, 2015
Cal State Northridge plays San Diego State in an elimination game Saturday following the Bruins-Longhorns tilt.
Arizona overcame four errors and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh to defeat St. John’s 4-2 Friday night in the Tucson Regional. The 12th-seeded Wildcats face Minnesota Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the winners’ bracket with a ticket to the regional championship on the line.
Trailing 4-1 heading into the top of the seventh, St. John’s closed the gap to two after its first three batters reached base and Yvonne Rericha coming home on a fielding error by second baseman Mo Mercado. Savannah Warren was thrown out at home by shortstop Kellie Fox on a fielder’s choice, but the Red Storm loaded the bases with two out after Monique Landini walked. Settling back in, Michelle Floyd struck out Krystal Puga swinging to end the game.
Arizona trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth before first baseman Hallie Wilson hit a solo blast. The Wildcats pounced on St. John’s pitcher Tori Free for three runs in the sixth thanks to home runs from Chelsea Goodacre and Lauren Young. Goodacre’s bomb was her 23rd of the season, good for second in the Pac-12 behind teammate Katiyana Mauga (both Goodacre and Mauga finished the regular season in the top 10 in the nation in homers and RBI; Arizona is the only team in the country to have two players in the top 10 in both categories).
Floyd pitched a complete game for Arizona, which is making its 29th consecutive appearance in the NCAA postseason (longest streak in the nation, mind you). Floyd allowed one earned run on seven hits and two walks while striking out four. Wilson led the offensive charge for Arizona by going 2-4 with a home run and a double.
— Arizona Softball (@UA_Softball) May 16, 2015
The BIG EAST champs move into the losers’ bracket, where they will square off against WAC champion New Mexico State in an elimination game following Arizona-Minnesota.
Check Pac-12.com Saturday for further updates on NCAA softball regional action.