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No. 14 Arizona eliminates MSU; Ole Miss falls, Alabama advances

 

Alabama’s Maddie Morgan lays down a sacrifice bunt in a pinch-hitting role Sunday in a 6-0 victory against Oregon State in the NCAA tournament Regionals at Rhoads Stadium.

Alabama’s Maddie Morgan lays down a sacrifice bunt in a pinch-hitting role Sunday in a 6-0 victory against Oregon State in the NCAA tournament Regionals at Rhoads Stadium. Photo by: Alabama Athletic Media Relations

 

From Special Reports

 

 

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Junior Taylor McQuillin threw 5 2/3 innings of hitless relief Sunday to lead the No. 14 Arizona softball team to a 4-3 victory against Mississippi State in the championship game of the Tucson Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium. 

 

Arizona (43-14) advances to the NCAA tournament's Super Regionals to face No. 3 UCLA, which rallied to beat Cal State Fullerton 3-0 and 6-4 on Sunday to set up a matchup of two Pacific-12 Conference rivals. 

 

MSU (38-23) used back-to-back home runs by Mia Davidson and Sarai Niu in the bottom of the first inning off starting pitcher Alyssa Denham to take an early lead. 

 

Arizona answered as Dejah Mulipola and Aleah Craighton singled in the top of the second. Ivy Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jenna Kean walked to drive in a run, and then Ashleigh Hughes hit a two-run single to make it 3-2. 

 

Carmen Carter hit a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the second to tie the game. Denham walked the next batter before coach Mike Candrea went to McQuillin, who had won Arizona's two previous games in the tournament. McQuillin got a double-play liner to shortstop Jessie Harper to get out of the inning. 

 

McQuillin (28-10) retired 13 consecutive batters until issuing a leadoff walk to Reggie Harrison in the bottom of the seventh. Emily Heimberger popped up trying to bunt, but McQuillin struck out Morgan Bell and Carter to end the game. 

 

Arizona regained the lead in the fifth, but left two runners in scoring position. 

 

Jessie Harper hit a one-out single, Mulipola walked, and Craighton had an RBI single and advanced to second on the throw to third. But pitcher Holly Ward (16-10) got two ground balls to strand the pair. 

 

Craighton was 3-for-4 and had the game-winning RBI. 

 

MSU brought in Cassady Knudsen to pitch the seventh, and she retired the side. 

 

MSU's three home runs raised its total to 55, which is a single-season team record. 

 

Davidson's home run helped her eclipse Iyhia McMichael (2003) for MSU single-season record with her 19th of the season. 

 

Ward (16-10) allowed four runs and 10 hits and walked two. She struck out five. 

 

MSU earned its first Southeastern Conference tournament win since 2005. It also advanced to its first regional championship since 2005.  

 

As a team, the Bulldogs also set a record for shutouts (19). Ward (nine) set the single-season record for shutouts. 

 

 

 

No. 8 Arizona State eliminates Ole Miss  

 

TEMPE, Ariz. -- DeNae Chatman hit a three-run home run, and Taylor Becerra and Jade Gortarez had two hits Sunday night to lead No. 8 Arizona State past Ole Miss in four-and-a-half innings in the Tempe Regional final. 

 

Gortarez and Maddi Hackbarth had two RBIs to help the Sun Devils (46-11) eliminate the Rebels (32-25). Arizona State used a 10-hit attack to advance to the NCAA tournament's Super Regionals. It limited the Rebels to hits by Kylan Becker and Paige McKinney. 

 

Kaitlin Lee (18-14) allowed six runs (five earned) in one-third of an inning. G Juarez (24-4) allowed two hits in three innings for Arizona State. She struck out three. Breanna Macha struck out three in the final two innings. 

 

Arizona State used a five-run first inning to break the game open. The Sun Devils used some small ball with a number of bunts and aggressive baserunning and a three-run home run to take the early lead. 

 

After a double play got Ole Miss out of some trouble in the second, Arizona State took advantage of two errors to score four more runs. 

 

 

 

No. 12 Alabama beats Oregon State 

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The No. 12 Alabama softball team secured its 16th NCAA Regional title, including an NCAA-best streak of 14th-straight, with a 6-0 victory against Oregon State on Sunday at Rhoads Stadium. 

 

With the win, Alabama (36-18) advances to its 14th-straight NCAA Super Regional round. It will face No. 5 Washington in a matchup between Southeastern Conference and Pacific-12 Conference powers. 

 

The SEC sent nine of its 13 teams to the super regionals, while the Pac-12 has five teams in the final 16. Oklahoma and Florida State are the only other teams from programs outside the SEC and Pac-12. 

 

The regional title is the 16th for Alabama in its 22-year history and its 14th-straight, the longest active streak in Division-I softball. This weekend's three-game sweep increases the Tide's regional win streak to 37 games, also an NCAA-best. 

 

Alabama used a two-run double from sophomore Bailey Hemphill in the first inning to take the lead for good. 

 

The Crimson Tide doubled its lead thanks to RBI singles from sophomore Elissa Brown and senior Demi Turner, who each had two hits batting at the top of the order. 

 

The final blow came in the top of the sixth, a two-run home run from junior Merris Schroder. 

 

Senior Alexis Osorio (15-9) threw 6 1/3 hitless innings before giving up a single in the seventh. She struck out nine and walked two in the complete-game effort. 

 

 

 

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