Four runs over the first two innings combined with an Alicia Hollowell two-hit shutout sent Arizona to a 6-0 win over Tennessee and into a “Battle of the Wildcats” for the national title Sunday evening at the Women’s College World Series.
After being held scoreless by the Lady Vols (61-12) in the opening game of the day, UA’s bats exploded out of the gate by scoring five runs, all with two outs, in the first three innings.
“This team has come a long way this season,” UA head coach Mike Candrea said. “We did what we had to do to give ourselves an opportunity to win. I thought we came out with a fire, and we played a great game, but I don’t think it was our best game yet. I was proud of the way we came out and responded.”
Caitlin Lowe started the game with a first-inning single, and she was safe at second on Autumn Champion’s fielder’s choice as second basman Kenora Posey couldn’t hold the throw, one of three UT errors on the evening. Two hitters later, Jenae Leles delivered a single that scored Lowe and Champion to put UA (52-11) up 2-0.
Champion led the Arizona attack, collecting two hits in four at-bats with three RBIs and a run scored. Laine Roth also collected a couple of hits, driving in a run and scoring one as well.
“It always helps seeing the same pitcher a second time,” Champion said. “We knew what to expect, and we came out with a different approach.”
The Wildcats added another pair of runs in the second. Laine Roth and Adrienne Acton both delivered back-to-back singles. Following a Lowe groundout, Champion scored both with a single that extended the lead to 4-0.
Alicia Hollowell had plenty of offensive support, giving up two hits and striking out 14 to run her record to 30-5 overall. Monica Abbott suffered the loss, dropping to 44-10 as she allowed all six runs, only three earned, on nine hits with five strikeouts.
After a Roth single scored Callista Balko to make it 5-0 in the third, the Wildcats capitalized on an error at second base in the sixth to add another run. Acton reached on the miscue and advanced on a Lowe sacrifice. Champion then drove in her third run of the evening as she singled home Acton.