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NCAA Softball Tournament Results: Arizona wins behind early runs and Estela Pinon relief

Six runs in the first three innings was enough for the Cats to open the 2014 tournament

Kelsey Rodriguez with a big day for Arizona
Kelsey Rodriguez with a big day for Arizona
Jason Bartel

The Arizona Wildcats scored early and often, leading to a 9-6 victory over the Boston University Terriers.  The win moves the Cats to 1-0 in the Tucson Regional.

"It wasn't pretty," said head coach Mike Candrea.  "But we got it done."

Arizona postgame press conference

Arizona scored four runs in the second, and tacked on two more runs in the third to give them an early 6-4 lead.

Boston put four runs up in the third on a Chelsea Kehr grand slam over the right field fence off of Shelby Babcock.  She drove in five runs for the Terriers on the night, including a sac fly in the seventh.

"We played them here last year, and she threw a three-hitter," Candrea said after the game about Babcock starting.  "We really felt like we needed to get some innings out of someone, but to me, when you get in these first games, you don't want to make 'em interesting.  I felt like after Babs gave up those four runs we had to make a switch."

After that third inning, Arizona brought in senior Estela Pinon, and she was fantastic in relief up until the seventh inning.

Pinon struck out eight batters in her four innings, surrendering just three hits and two walks along the way.

On what made her effective, Candrea said that "she was able to throw strikes, and her speed."  Jennie Finch said earlier this week that Arizona relies on its pitching staff complimenting each other, and that's exactly what happened tonight.

"We really thought going from Babs to Pinon would be more effective," Candrea explained about the change in pitching.  "When you're going from 62-64 up to 66-67, it does take a while for hitters to adjust to that.  And the other thing is (Pinon) has been our number one of late, so that's why she was in the circle."

BU mounted a threat in the seventh, scoring their fifth and sixth runs of the night, but another Pinon strikeout closed out the game.

The offensive star of the night for Arizona was Kelsey Rodriguez, who drove in three runs on a double in the second inning.  Rodriguez was 2-for-4 on the night with two doubles.

The Wildcats scored three more runs in the fifth inning after BU dropped a couple of fly balls, which proved crucial with the last-inning runs scored by Boston.  

"Their lack of defense in the outfield kind of shot them in the foot," Candrea stated.  "We'll take our runs any way we can."

Arizona plays LSU at 1:30 PM on Saturday after the Tigers downed Louisville in the first game of the Regional.  A quick turnaround for the Cats, but they're ready.

"Playing a late game then turning around and playing an early game is ridiculous," Candrea said with a dry tone.  "We've been looking at video.  (LSU) is a good offensive team, they're aggressive.  I think right now they're down to one pitcher, so we just need to figure her out, and this team's been very good at that.  We're excited and looking forward to a great battle."