Arizona Wins 2nd straight WCWS

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Taryne Mowatt finished what she started and Arizona won its eighth NCAA softball title, breaking loose against Tennessee ace Monica Abbott for a 5-0 victory Wednesday night in the Women's College World Series.

The top-seeded Wildcats (50-14-1) lost the opener in the best-of-three championship series, then bounced back to win the final two games.

Mowatt (42-12) pitched all 60 innings in the tournament for Arizona and became the first pitcher to win seven games in the event.

It was scoreless in the fifth inning when Arizona scored all five runs. Jenae Leles hit a two-run single and Chelsie Mesa added a three-run homer for the Wildcats (50-14-1).

Arizona, which needed help from an error to break Abbott's 43-inning scoreless streak in Game 2, got several key hits against her this time.

Caitlin Lowe, Arizona's speedy leadoff hitter, started the fifth inning by reaching on a slapped grounder back to Abbott (50-5). K'Lee Arredondo followed with a single, and an error by right fielder Nicole Kajitani put runners at second and third.

Abbott then intentionally walked Kristie Fox, who tied the tournament record with 11 hits, to load the bases for Mesa.

Mesa's grounder made it through to center field to score the first two runs, and Mesa hit a 3-2 pitch over Kajitani's outstretched arms and the wall.

Mowatt broke the school record for wins in a season set by Alicia Hollowell in 2004.

After recording the final out on Shannon Doepking's grounder to third, the Wildcats celebrated by tossing their gloves into the air and piling on each other in the pitching circle. The NCAA championship trophy was rushed into the pile, and players then hoisted it in the air.

The Lady Vols (63-8) were trying to become the first Southeastern Conference team to win the national championship and Abbott, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, was attempting to become the third pitcher to lead the nation in strikeouts and win a championship in the same season.

Both efforts were stunted when Tennessee couldn't produce with runners in scoring position. The Lady Vols stranded 14 runners in a 1-0 loss in Game 2 and another 12 in Game 3. They left the bases loaded in the third and sixth innings.

Mowatt struck out Tiffany Huff looking to end the third inning and pinch-hitter Danielle Pieroni to end the sixth. She fanned 11 to set the record for strikeouts in a World Series, pulling ahead of Abbott after Abbott had broken Hollowell's mark a night earlier.

Mowatt threw more than 1,000 pitches and eight complete games in the course of a week, leading Arizona back from the losers' bracket to win the title. She was chosen the series' most outstanding player.

Abbott struck out seven in her final collegiate game, finishing a remarkable career as the NCAA record-holder in wins, shutouts, strikeouts and innings pitched. But the 6-foot-3 lefty leaves Tennessee without a national title.

Arizona won back-to-back championships for the first time since its run of five titles in a seven-year span that ended in 1997. UCLA, which won the title in 2003 and 2004, is the only team to win consecutive titles since then.

Lowe had four singles as Arizona put its most pressure on Abbott in four games during the series -- two won by each team. Tennessee beat Arizona 1-0 in the preliminaries of the double-elimination tournament and 3-0 in Game 1 of the championship round.

But Arizona got the last two wins -- and the title.

The series set an attendance record for the fourth straight year, drawing 62,463 fans to break last year's mark of 46,122. Among those in attendance Wednesday night was Arizona football coach Mike Stoops.

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