UA On to Regional Final with 12-6 Win
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona hit three home runs, including two from Dejah Mulipola, to defeat Ole Miss, 12-6 in game 3 of the Tucson Regional. The Wildcats move on to Sunday's regional final, which will begin at 5 p.m. MST vs. the winner of Saturday's game 5.
Game 3: Arizona 12, Ole Miss 6
Host Arizona nearly blew an 8-0 lead and got itself into jitterville but bounced back with a huge sixth-inning rally to sock Ole Miss, 12-6, Saturday afternoon at UA's Hillenbrand Stadium and earn a berth in Sunday's championship round of the NCAA Softball Championships
Arizona used three pitchers, with Mariah Lopez (8-2) winning in relief and Hanah Bowen picking up her second save. Dejah Mulipola blasted a pair of home runs to lead UA at the plate.
UA (38-13) will face the winner of the last Saturday game between Ole Miss and either Villanova or UMBC, in a title game at 5 p.m. Sunday. Ole Miss comes back Saturday for the last night game.
Ole Miss (35-21) put some early pressure on UA starter Alyssa Denham with a pair of one-out hits and a ground ball to put runners on the corners in the top of the first, but she struck out Jessica Puk to strand two.
UA did the same, with Janelle Meono and Reyna Carranco drawing walks off Ole Miss starter Savannah Diederich (12-9) to open the game. Jessie Harper hit a liner to right to move Meono up but it didn't much matter as Mulipola, who struck out three times Friday night against UMBC, drilled an opposite field home run to put the Cats up 3-0. It was her team-high 18th of the year.
The Cats appeared to blow the game open with five unearned runs in the second. Malia Martinez singled and two outs later an error by the Ole Miss shortstop allowed a run to score. Jessie Harper followed with a wind-aided infield double, and the Rebels elected to intentionally walk Mulipola to load the bases.
Sharlize Palacios followed with an eight-pitch at bat and a grand slam to deep center, her 17th home run of the year.
Bases loaded? Call @sharpalacios ??
Shar's grand slam today was her third of the season // she is hitting .462 this year with the bases juiced ?? pic.twitter.com/6eu7MTIUU4
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) May 23, 2021
Ole Miss responded. Autumn Gillespie drew a walk and Abbey Latham collected her third hit on the weekend with a two-run home run, her seventh, to cut the lead to 8-2. Denham walked Sydney Gutierrez to keep the rally going, but UA shortstop Harper turned a double play on a Puk ground ball.
The Rebels kept battling and took advantage of a UA miscue in the fourth. Nyomi Jones and Mikayla Allee had one-out singles, and then UA thirdbaseman Malia Martinez hit Tate Whitley with a throw on her sacrifice bunt to allow Jones to score and cut it to 8-3. After Denham struck out Paige Smith, Gillespie collected her eighth home run of the season and fifth hit of the weekend to make it 8-6.
All four runs were unearned, but chased Denham in favor of Mariah Lopez. She gave up a single to Latham but struck out Gutierrez to end the inning.
In the sixth, UA brought in Bowen to pitch and Ole Miss got a leadoff single from Tate Whitley and walk from Smith to put two aboard with no outs. But Bowen struck out Gillespie for a huge out and got ground balls from the next two hitters to thwart the rally.
The Cats sixth began with a singles by Peanut Martinez and Meono, and a deep fly from Carranco that moved them up. Harper followed with a sacrifice fly for one run, and then Mulipola socked her second home run of the game -- over the two-story left field bleachers beyond the fence.
DEJAH, WHAT?!?! ??
???????? Candrea's Corner for her second #DejahDinger of the game!
?? SEC Network [https://t.co/KBYvELAwut] pic.twitter.com/fg16jkcYDV
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) May 22, 2021
The Rebels put up some more fight, getting runners at the corners in the seventh before Bowen got a ground ball back to the circle for the final out.
Game 4: Villanova 4, UMBC 3
Villanova outlasted UMBC, 4-3, to stay alive in the Tucson region of the NCAA Softball Championships here at Hillenbrand Stadium Saturday evening.
The Wildcats (37-14) will turn around and play Ole Miss in the final night game for the right to meet Arizona in the championship round Sunday. UMBC concluded its season at 25-13 in its fourth NCAA appearance.
UMBC collected a leadoff hit in each of the first three innings and made it count in the third. Pitcher Courney Coppersmith (19-4) doubled and moved to third on a single by Maddie Daigneau, who stole second. Julie Keffler hit a fielder's choice, with pinch runner Julia Colton out at the plate. Keffler stole second and Sierra Pierce dropped a double off a diving left fielder's glove and drove in Daigneau and Keffler for a two-run lead.
The Retrievers fetched another run in the fourth with a walk, a sac bunt by Anna Lonchar, a single from Meghan Dempsey and then a run-scoring ground ball by Coppersmith.
Villanova got its first hit of the game off Coppersmith – after eight consecutive strikeouts – with a leadoff double by Wildcat pitcher Paige Rauch in the fourth, starting a game-tying rally. After another strikeout, Megan Kern singled to drive in Rauch and moved to second on a throwing error by the rightfielder. Coppersmith picked up her 10th strikeout, but then Ally Jones launched her seventh home run of the year to knot the score.
Villanova loaded the bases in the fifth with a single by Julia DaCosta and two-out walks to Rauch and Angela Giampolo, but Coppersmith got a fly ball from Megan Kern for the third out.
Jones led off the Villanova sixth with a double down the rightfield line, then scored on an infield hit by Tess Cites to give the Wildcats the lead, 4-3.
Villanova centerfielder Sydney Hayes made an outstanding running catch at the wall in the top of the seventh off a drive by Casey Turner to end the game. Rauch improved to 21-4. She struck out six. Coppersmith struck out 12 for the Retrievers.
Game 5: Ole Miss vs. Villanova • 8:20 p.m. MST • TV: TBA