Arizona falters late as Baylor forces game three
The Arizona softball team huddles up during their game against Baylor on May 27 at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Arizona Wildcats will have to play one more game in their quest for a trip to the Women’s College World Series.
Arizona was unable to hold onto a late-inning lead as the Baylor Bears came back and won by a final score of 6-4 to force a decisive game three of the Tucson Super Regional.
Baylor used a four-run sixth inning, in which they had three extra-base hits, to propel themselves over the No. 2 seeded Wildcats. The Wildcats also committed several costly errors on the field at crucial times during the game that led to scoring opportunities for the Bears.
“The game got a little quick on us today for some reason,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “We just weren’t in a good place at times tonight and it came back to bite us.”
The Bears drew first blood in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from center fielder Jessie Scroggins, sister of former Arizona football quarterback Jessie Scroggins. Scroggins’ single ended up scoring two Baylor runners as Maddison Kettler advanced home after a fielding error by Arizona outfielder Eva Watson.
“There were some plays that could have been made, should have been made, but weren’t made,” Candrea said. “That’s what happens when the game starts getting quick on you. So we need to slow things down tomorrow.”
Arizona would answer in the top half of the fifth and tied the game on a 2-RBI single to right field from Jessie Harper, who hit the game-winning single in game one against the Bears.
“She did a wonderful job, that’s Harp. She’s a battler and a fighter,” Candrea said.
The Wildcats got their first lead of the game in the sixth inning thanks to RBI singles from Mandie Perez and Mo Mercado to make it 4-2. But that wasn’t enough as Baylor regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Danielle O’Toole came in to replace starter Taylor McQuillin in the sixth after McQuillin allowed a one-out double. A move that would typically yield a positive result ended with anything but as the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year allowed three runs and four hits in her relief appearance.
“I thought it was our advantage to have brought her in when they chose to,” Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said.
Moore said that it was because he thought freshman Shelby McGlaun, O’Toole’s first hitter, would be able to have success against her and she did. McGlaun got an infield single and the rally ensued.
Arizona was unable to mount another comeback in the seventh as Baylor’s Kelsee Selman shut down the ‘Cats to notch her 24th win of the season.
It’s no secret that the Wildcat’s offensive formula for success this season has been reliant on the bat of Katiyana Mauga. However, the senior slugger didn’t even get a chance to lift the bat off her shoulder as she was walked in all four of her at-bats. Her first three trips to the plate all ended with an intentional walk, and the fourth was a five-pitch pitch around.
“The game does not play with one person, so I felt like they were giving us a free base. Is it frustrating? Yeah. But did I understand what they were doing? Yeah. So it’s a matter of the rest of our kids to pick up the slack,” Candrea said.
Now looms the winner-take-all showdown that will take place tomorrow afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium. The winner will advance to Oklahoma City for a spot in the Women’s College World Series.
First pitch is set for 4:00pm and will be broadcast on ESPNU.