The Arizona Wildcats advanced to the Regional Finals after taking down the LSU Tigers 9-8 behind two Hallie Wilson home runs.
The junior lefty Wilson put the game just out of reach with a three-run homer to right in the bottom of the fifth to give Arizona the lead for good. It just skirted over the fence, but it was a rope.
"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," Wilson explained. "I've been struggling a little bit at the plate trying to get my groove back, and today I started feeling it."
The game was defined by home runs and short offensive outbursts. Each team finished the game with three home runs.
"I think Arizona has one of the best offenses in the country,"said LSU head coach Beth Torina. "and I think they showed us why."
LSU almost came back in the seventh, but a crazy double play ended the threat, and gave Arizona the 9-8 win.
"I like the fight my team showed at the end," continued coach Torina. "I thought we fought really hard."
Estela Pinon got the start in the circle for Arizona a day after coming on in relief of Shelby Babcock. Pinon struggled with her command, but fought through it to go the distance. The senior allowed eight total hits, resulting in seven earned runs.
She ran into a lot of trouble in the seventh though. After loading the bases before recording an out, Constance Quinn grounded out to short, but LSU was able to score two runs on the play to make it 9-7.
"Honestly, it's one pitch at a time," Pinon said as she talked about the crazy 7th. "I'm not even focused on the next hitter. I'm focused on that moment trying to get ahead. It's tough."
A double from Sandra Simmons to right-center brought the Tigers within one. But on another groundout, Arizona was able to get the hitter at first, and a throw back across the diamond got Simmons at third to end the game.
"That double play was sweet!" Pinon joked.
"By no means did that cost us the ball game," added LSU coach Torina. "I did not send her. That's a situation where (Simmons) has to read it, and she thought she had it. That's what makes her so great is she is so aggressive."
"We knew LSU was going to keep throwing punches, and they did," coach Mike Candrea said after the game. "But I'm really pleased with our team because they kept responding. And I think the biggest play was the last play. But Estela hung in there, did a good job, and no regrets."
"Tremendous ball game," coach added. "Big victory for us."
But back to the start.
After getting the first five outs of the game without a lot of problems, LSU pitcher Baylee Corbello ran into some trouble with two down in the second.
Courtney Rodriguez and Chelsea Suitos each got on, bringing up Wilson. The Arizona first baseman crushed a ball to left-center, and LSU center fielder A.J. Andrews tried to make a leaping play to rob her of a hit. But Andrews slammed into the wall, and accidentally kicked the ball about 100 feet along the warning track to the left-field foul pole.
"I don't even know how it got so far," said a puzzled Wilson afterwards. "She kicked it? I don't know, it kind of rolled our way."
"I've seen some crazy things," Candrea added. "But not quite that way. But I have seen some interesting bounces, and that's the great part about this game. It's unpredictable."
"100 times we catch that ball, and not even one of 'em do we kick it all the way to the left field corner," joked LSU's Torina. "Kind of a fluke thing there. Credit to Andrews though. Most kids in the country wouldn't have even been near that ball."
The Tigers' left fielder Jaycee Blades (sick name) was over backing up the play in left-center, so it was an easy inside-the-park home run for Wilson.
Arizona's very next batter Kelsey Rodriguez followed up with a traditional home run to left to make it 4-0.
LSU responded in the third though with two home runs of their own. Tammy Wray got the party started with a solo home run, and later in the inning, Bianka Bell smashed a ball halfway up the left-field grandstands to tie the game up at four.
The Tigers also tacked on their third home run in the sixth inning; a solo shot off the bat of Bailey Landry. But after a five-run fifth from the Cats, that wouldn't be enough.
The Wildcats are back in action Sunday afternoon at 1:30 PM local. Two more games on the docket in Tucson on Saturday to decide who Arizona will face in the Regional Final. LSU will play in the night game against the winner of the Boston/Louisville game.