Cats Fall in WCWS Opener
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jessie Harper tied the Arizona and Pac-12 career home run record with her 92nd career homer, but Arizona dropped its WCWS opener on Thursday, 5-1 to third-seeded Alabama.
The Wildcats will fall into the loser's bracket now, where they will face the loser of tonight's UCLA/Florida State game on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. MST on ESPN.
Arizona could not find its offense against Alabama ace and NCAA strikeout leader Montana Fouts, who allowed just two base runners in the game -- a Janelle Meoño single and a seventh-inning Harper Homer -- while facing one over the minimum and striking out 14.
The Crimson Tide offense scored a pair of early runs against the Wildcats before ballooning a 2-0 lead into a 5-0 advantage with three two-out runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Hanah Bowen pitched the first four innings and surrendered two runs on four hits before being relieved by Alyssa Denham in the fifth. Denham retired the first five she faced before three-straight two-out hits, including a pinch hit Abby Doerr homer, brought three runs across. Bowen, who struck out three in the start, took the loss to fall to 10-4 on the season.
Alabama got on the board in the board in the bottom of the first inning after a pair of walks and a single plus an error put the Crimson Tide up, 1-0. Bowen was able to escape with the single run allowed though, getting a fly out and a strikeout to strand a pair of runners.
In the third, the Crimson Tide added another on a Bailey Hemphill home run.
A two-out rally in the sixth produced three more runs for Alabama to put the Crimson Tide up, 5-1.
Harper homered in the seventh, her 16th of the year and her 92nd of her career, tying her with Katiyana Mauga for the second most in Arizona history. It was her third homer this postseason and eighth postseason home run of her career.
Arizona fell to 41-14 on the season with the loss while Alabama improved to 51-7.