Arizona softball moves on to Super Regional with win over South Carolina
The Arizona Wildcats defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks in convincing fashion by a final score of 9-0 and will move on to host the Baylor Bears in the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.
Arizona’s dominant game was fueled by a 4-RBI performance from senior Mandie Perez and a complete game shutout from sophomore Taylor McQuillin.
“Taylor threw a great game today… Mandie is kind of our table-setter and did it again today with the home run. I thought that was huge,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said after the game.
McQuillin built off her strong relief outing from Friday night, striking out 6 batters during her seven innings of work today. She also worked out of a couple jams early in the game as she stranded two Gamecock runners on-base in both the first and third innings.
“Any pitcher that has nine runs put up on the board for them is going to want to go out and shut it down for their team,” McQuillin said. “As the game kept going on I did think I started to relax a little bit and say ‘the team’s got my back’.”
Mandie Perez, on the other hand, continued her hot stretch at the plate. After hitting a home run in Friday’s victory, Perez homered again today opening up the Wildcat’s potent offense with a two-run laser beam in the top of the third that cleared the right-center field wall.
“I have been relying on a lot of my slapping and I am not somebody that is looked to have a home run like that, so I was just relieved,” Perez said.
Perez made her presence felt again later in the sixth inning when she hit a two-run double to left field. The double capped off what was a four-run inning for the Wildcats and would prove to be an insurmountable deficit for the Gamecocks.
Freshman Reyna Carranco continues to be a weapon for Arizona in multiple ways today as she tallied three hits and two RBIs in just her third game of postseason action. Carranco had an RBI single up the middle in the sixth inning prior to Perez’ double and then added an insurance RBI single in the seventh to make it 8-0 Arizona. She also made a diving stop and throw at second base in the fifth inning to prevent a hit.
“It’s fun. I think I am just trying to bring the same mentality every game,” Carranco said about her time in the postseason so far.
The left-handed hitting Carranco has been a major boost at the bottom of the lineup for Candrea’s team and has proven to be a tough out with two other lefties hitting behind her.
“I think it is pretty tough for the defense, three lefty slappers in a row, so I like it a lot,” Carranco said.
Arizona would go on to add another run after Carranco's seventh inning single and then McQuillin mowed down the Gamecocks to seal the victory. McQuillin’s shutout ensured that Arizona did not allow a single run during this weekend’s regional games.
The win sets up a date with the No. 15 ranked Baylor Bears in Tucson next weekend in the Super Regionals. The Wildcats and Bears will play a best of 3 series for a trip to the College World Series in Oklahoma City. Arizona previously beat Baylor 4-0 in February during the Hillenbrand Invitational.
With a rematch set to take place in less than a week, Candrea is as comfortable as ever with his team.
“I think we have all the pieces and all we have to do is perform.” Candrea said.
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