Huskies sweep Arizona

Tia Bollinger induced Pac-10 and NCAA home run leader Leneah Manuma to bounce back to the circle with runners on at second and third in the top of the seventh inning as the sixth ranked Huskies held on for a tense and dramatic 3-2 victory and a sweep over second ranked and defending national champion Arizona in a doubleheader at Husky Softball Stadium on Saturday afternoon before a standing room only crowd of 1,277.

With the sweep on the final day of the regular season, the Huskies improved to 44-16 overall and clinched third place in the Pac-10 with a 13-8 mark, while the Wildcats finished second in the Pac-10 with a 15-6 record and dropped to 49-10 overall. Both teams now await the selection of the NCAA tournament field at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 12.

Trailing 3-2 entering the seventh, Arizona got the first two runners aboard against Husky starter Ashley Boek. Crystal Farley reached safely when shortstop Jaime Clark bobbled her ground ball for her second error of the game. Husky head coach then brought in Bollinger to relieve Boek and face Arizona leadoff batter Lovie Jung. Jung laid a sacrifice bunt down the third base line and when no Husky made a play on the ball, she reached first safely. Courtney Fossatti then hit a slow ground ball toward short. Clark charged it and shoveled the ball to third baseman Kathy Fiske just in time to force Farley. Jennie Finch then tapped back to Bollinger in the circle for the second out of the inning, with Jung and Fossatti moving to second and third. After looking at a ball, Manuma hit the next pitch back to Bollinger, who tossed to Amanda Oleson at first for the final out of the game and her seventh save of the season.

The Huskies benefited from two Wildcat errors to score three runs off ace Jennie Finch (29-4) in the bottom of the first. Rita Roach got hit by a pitch, and Clark hit a ground ball to third baseman Jackie Coburn. Coburn attempted to force Roach at second, but threw the ball wildly past the base, allowing Roach to scamper to third, with Clark safe at first. Kristen Rivera then grounded to shortstop Jung, who after looking Roach back to third, threw to first to retire Rivera, with Clark advancing to second. Amanda Oleson then lined a 2-1 pitch into right center field for a triple to score Roach and Clark and give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. Oleson then scored when Jung allowed Kathy Fiske's grounder to roll between her legs into left field for an error.

Arizona made the score 3-2 with two runs in the third as Fossatti drew a one out walk and Manuma blasted her 20th home run of the season way beyond the right field wall.

The Huskies had a golden opportunity to pad their lead in the fifth as senior Becky Simpson, playing perhaps her final home game at Husky Softball Stadium, lined a triple to left center field. However, Roach fouled out to Coburn, Clark struck out looking and, after Rivera got hit by a pitch, Oleson struck out swinging.

In the circle, Boek pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out eight, and improved to 18-2. Finch suffered the tough luck loss despite pitching her 30th complete game of the season, allowing no earned runs on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts in six innings.

Kathy Fiske doubled with the bases loaded to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the third inning and give the Huskies a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats in the opener.

Roach led off the third by beating out a grounder into the shortstop hole for an infield hit and advanced to second on a foul fly by Clark. Rivera then walked and Oleson singled to load the bases. Fiske then lined the ninth pitch from Arizona starter Jenny Gladding over the glove of right fielder Carrie Hagen to score Roach and Rivera and put the Huskies up 3-1.

Leslie Scott made her seventh start of the season in the circle for the Huskies and got into a bit of a jam in the first inning, as the first two Wildcat batters reached base. Jung walked and Fossatti singled to center. However, Finch flied out to left, Manuma struck out swinging, and Mackenzie Vandergeest struck out looking to end the threat.

The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Simpson chopped an infield single, Roach followed with an single to left and Clark walked on four pitches to load the bases. Then Rivera blooped a single to left to plate Simpson. The Huskies still had the bases loaded and an opportunity to really put the Wildcats in the hole on the scoreboard, but Gladding struck out the side, getting Oleson and Courtney Jeffries swinging and Fiske looking.

Arizona tied the game at 1 in the top of the third as Fossatti reached on an infield single and Finch battled Scott for nine pitches, finally drilling a line drive into right center field for a double to score Fossatti.

Scott, seeking her second complete game of the season, retired the first two batters in the seventh with the help of some terrific defense. Gladding led off the inning with a line drive to right that looked like it would drop for a hit, but right fielder Megan Owen dove to her left to make the catch. That play would loom large, as after Scott struck out Allyson Von Liechtenstein looking, Farley singled to center. Coach Wilson then decided to bring in Bollinger in relief and Lovie Jung singled to right. With runners aboard at first and second, Bollinger got Fossatti to hit a flare to third baseman Fiske for the final out of the game and her sixth save of the season. With the win, Scott improved to 7-5, allowing one run on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings. Gladding dropped to 19-6 despite pitching her 23rd complete game of the season, allowing three runs, all earned, on seven hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in six innings.

NOTES: With her triple in the fifth inning of game 2, Becky Simpson finished the season tied with UCLA's Natasha Watley for the Pac-10 lead in that category, with 7.

The Huskies begin play in NCAA regional action on Thursday, May 16 and aim to advance to the College World Series for the sixth time in seven seasons.

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