Wildcats on to CWS with 10-5 win over Texas A&M

TUCSON - Senior shortstop Lovie Jung led Arizona to a 10-5 victory and its 16th consecutive Women's College World Series berth, as the Cats beat Texas A&M for the NCAA Region 1 with a blistering hitting attack.

The Cats pounded 19 hits off three A&M pitchers.

Arizona jumped to a quick lead. With one out in the first, Courtney Fossatti singled and was doubled to third by Lovie Jung, setting up a two-run single by Mackenzie Vandergeest.

Texas A&M touched up UA freshman pitcher Alicia Hollowell in its home half of the inning to take the lead, 4-2. Adrian Gregory singled, Ricky Spencer reached on a sacrifice bunt when Hollowell tried to get the lead runner, and Jana James walked. Crystal Martin hit her second home run of the tournament to clear the bases.

Arizona responded swiftly. Lisha Ribellia led off the second with a single, and moved to third on a throwing error off Crystal Farley's infield single. Autumn Champion singled in Ribellia. Courtney Fossatti reached on a fielder's choice , forcing Farley, then Lovie Jung hammered her 25th home run of the year to make it 5-4.

The Cats added some insurance runs in the top of the sixth. Jung collected her fourth hit, moved to second on a hit by Wendy Allen, then stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Allen moved up on the play, moved to third on a ground ball by Jackie Coburn, then scored on a single by Ribellia.

Vandergeest doubled in two runs in the top of the seventh to make it 9-4. Fossatti and Jung singled before Vandergeest collected her 10th and 11th RBI of the regional.

Jung, who finished the day five-for-five, was selected Region 1 Most Outstanding Player. She had a double, home run, two stolen bases and four runs scored in the championship game.

Hollowell collected herself after the first inning and threw two-hit ball until the seventh inning, when the Aggies staged a two-out rally. Spencer led off with a single, Selena Collins was hit by a pitch and Hollowell walked Jana James to load the bases. Crystal Martin, who made the all-tourney team, singled in a run. Lindsay Wilhelmson lined out to left field to end the game.

It was the fourth victory of the tournament for Hollowell, extending her school season record to 38 victories, against three losses. TAMU's Wilhelmson (18-8) took the loss, but had two victories in NCAA play and made the all-tournament team.

Texas A&M finished its season 38-22 and was 3-2 in Region play. The Wildcats improved to 54-5 with a flawless 4-0 tournament record including two victories over the Aggies.

Three other Wildcats made the All-Region 1 team along with Jung -- Hollowell, Champion and Vandergeest.

Arizona will play Game 1 of the College World Series at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 22, against the winner of the Region 8 tournament, either top seed Alabama or Southern Illinois.

POST GAME COMMENTS

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea:
"It was another goal of ours to be at home (for the regionals) and win. My hat goes off to these girls. Some people don't understand the pressure of wearing this uniform. There's a lot of pressure not only from the coaches but from the fans who always expect you to win. I was impressed with (Coach) Joe Evans and the Aggies. They did a good job of fighting back and not just laying down after our big inning."

Lovie Jung:
After yesterday, we had to come out with authority and control, and I think we did that. Especially after giving up four runs in the first inning."

Texas A&M Coach Jo Evans:
"I thought our kids did a great job. We got into a hole early, but how we came back waas exciting. After losing 3-0 yesterday, we had a lot of confidence andwere excited for our chances today. We have a lot of fight in our team and people know that about us."

REGION 1 ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Lovie Jung, Arizona shortstop, Most Outstanding Player
Kristin Lueke, Princeton utility
Jan Moshier, Cal State Northridge catcher
Anne Thul, Minnesota catcher
Kristin Hall, South Carolina utility
Crystal Martin, Texas A&M shortstop
Lindsay Wilhelmson, Texas A&M pitcher
Jana James, Texas A&M outfielder
Alicia Hollowell, Arizona pitcher
Autumn Champion, Arizona outfielder
Mackenzie Vandergeest, Arizona catcher

Game Three: UA 3, Texas A&M 0 TUCSON--Freshman Alicia Hollowell set an Arizona school record with her 37th pitching victory, tossing a two-hit shutout over Texas A&M to put the Wildcats in the championship game of the NCAA Region 1 playoff. Hollowell struck out only three batters but allowed only one Aggie baserunner to reach second base, Jennifer Davis after she singled in the third, and faced only 30 batters, with no walks. Cheryl Fowler had the other A&M hit.

Arizona made the most of its first scoring opportunity by plating two runs in the top of the first inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Wendy Allen drove a single into center field that scored Courtney Fossatti. Lovieanne Jung also scored from first base on the play following an errant throw to the plate by A&M center fielder Cheryl Fowler.

A one-out single by Lisha Ribellia, followed by a stolen base and a two-out single by Autumn Champion gave the Wildcats another run in the second inning.

Hollowell broke the single-season pitching victories record held by Nancy Evans, UA's assistant coach. She had identical 36-2 records in both 1997 and 1998. She won the Honda Softball Award the latter year as a senior. Hollowell is just two victories shy of hitting Arizona's career pitching victories chart, where Ginnie Scheller sits at No. 10 with a 38-12 mark from 1987-90 during Arizona Coach Mike Candrea's early tenure at Arizona.

Texas A&M (37-21) plays South Carolina for the right to meet Arizona (53-5) in Sunday's title game. If either team beats the Wildcats Sunday, a second game will be played to determine the region's participant in the Women's College World Series next week in Oklahoma City.

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea:
"The bottom line is to win, and we did that. Alicia pitched a good game. We scored some runs early and I think we could have gotten a lot more on them, which was disappointing for me. I thought in the first four innings we were a little blase."

UA pitcher Alicia Hollowell:
"They were pretty aggressive and they came out early, hitting pitches early in the count. The defense did a good job."

Game Two: UA 4, Minnesota 0 TUCSON - By changing pitchers almost as often as batters, Minesota attempted to disrupt any momentum Arizona might have built in a 4-0 loss to the Wildcats at the NCAA Region 1 softball tournament.

The merry-go-round that was the Minnesota pitching staff resulted in 13 changes in six innings -- 11 of those involving Angie Recknor or Lyn Reyer.P> However, it was to no avail as Arizona scratched out a single run in the third and plated three more in the fifth to post its 52nd win of the season.

All of this had no effect on Arizona's starting pitcher, Alicia Hollowell, who struck out eight to improve to 36-3 on the season. Hollowell, who notched her 23rd solo shutout of the season, allowed just one hit through six innings.

Arizona broke through with a run in the third inning. Autumn Champion led off the inning with an infield hit and advanced to second on a groundout. Lovieanne Jung delivered the RBI single to left-center field.

The Wildcats added three more runs in the fifth inning. Once again, it was Jung punctuating the inning with a run-scoring double to center field. Catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest followed with a two-run double to center that made the score, 4-0.

Arizona moves to the third-round winner's bracket game at 2 p.m. Saturday. Minnesota plays a late game Friday against Boston College.

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea:
"It was an interesting ball game. I thought Minnesota had an interesting strategy. They tried to keep our batters off balance. The key to the game was our lefties getting on base, and Hollowell came out and gave us a great performance."

UA's Alicia Hollowell:
"I like it better (the heat, near 100), your muscles stay loose. They can get tight when it's cold." Minnesota Co-Head Coach Lisa Bernstein:
"I thought it was a hard-fought battle. We had a strategy for the game, but it had a different outcome than we wanted."

UM's Angie Recknor:
"Going in there we were told the game plan (about switching.) Once you're on the mound, you are not thinking like you do in the dugout. You're in the game and just focus on what you're supposed to do."

Game One: UA 11, Colorado State 1

A Mackenzie Vandergeest first-inning grand slam propelled Arizona to a 11-1 five-inning victory over Colorado State Thursday morning in first-round NCAA Region 1 action. The top-ranked Wildcats scored early and often as the club batted around in each of the first two innings.

Arizona opened the bottom of the first inning with consecutive singles and a hit batsman before Vandergeest took CSU starter Megan Masser (20-6) over the fence for her 13th home run of the season. UA added another run in the frame on an RBI single by Crystal Farley.

Vandergeest ignited a UA rally in the second with a run-scoring single, Lisha Ribellia hit a two-run single and three other Wildcats drove in runs as the Cats went up by a score of 11-0 after two innings.

UA starter Alicia Hollowell (35-3) threw no-hit ball for three innings before coach Mike Candrea pulled her for more rest, using Wendy Allen in relief.

The Rams picked up their first hits and a run in the fourth off Allen. Jennifer Mahoney singled to left, then scored on a double by Ricki Walker. Arizona collected 11 hits in the game.

Arizona (51-5) moves to second-round play Friday against Minnesota Friday morning in the winner's bracket. Colorado State (35-14) plays an elimination game against Cal State Northridge later tonight at 7 p.m.

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea:
"It's always good to get the first one under your belt. We got some runs early, which is always good. Hollowell came out and gave us a good chance, and we got some innings out of Wendy (Allen.)"

UA's Mackenzie Vandergeest:
"It felt good to get a hit for the team and get a few runs and the early lead. It's huge for the young players to get the experience of that first win."

CSU Coach Mary Yori:
"We got off to a rocky start. It doesn't help when you give up that big hit. I thought we came ready to play, but Arizona's a good team. We didn't bring our best game today, which is disappointing."

CSU Pitcher Megan Masser:
"I have to keep my head in the game and just get ready to face the next batter. She (Vandergeest) hit my change-up."


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