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NCAA Softball: Arizona can’t fend off Oklahoma State in Women’s College World Series

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When a pitcher has allowed a mere 0.83 walks and hits per inning all season, just getting baserunners can feel like a win. Arizona was able to get their leadoff hitter on base against Oklahoma State’s Kelly Maxwell in five of seven innings. The Wildcats just weren’t able to capitalize on those baserunners often enough as the Cowgirls defeated Arizona 4-2 in the Women’s College World Series.

Arizona started the second, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings by getting the leadoff safely on. The Wildcats were only able to secure runs out of the early advantage in the fifth inning.

Sophia Carroll led off the fifth with a single. Three batters later, Sharlize Palacios launched a home run to center field to put Arizona up 2-1 over Oklahoma State. It was just the eighth home run Maxwell had given up all season.

“I think we’re seeing one of the best pitchers in the country,” Palacios said. “That’s the big part. She’s a really good pitcher, and there’s going to be strikeouts. The way we bounce back, a big part of our momentum shift was when Sophia Carroll got that amazing up-the-middle hit, and everyone kind of opened their eyes like, ‘hey, we can pass the bat. Let’s do this.’ We’re facing one of the best, and they were facing one of the best too.”

Hanah Bowen worked into and out of trouble all game. She had a runner in scoring position in the first inning, then gave up the go-ahead run in the fourth. After Palacios gave her the lead in the top of the fifth, Bowen promptly walked two batters and hit a third to load the bases in the bottom of the inning.

Bowen escaped the jam in the bottom of the fifth and was sent back out in the bottom of the sixth with her team still leading by one. A walk and a single put two on with no outs for Karli Petty, who sent the 2-2 pitch out of the park and gave the Cowgirls the 4-2 lead.

Bowen has worked out of jams all postseason. So, there was no thought given to removing her after the fifth.

“I thought when she got out of (the fifth inning), it rolled her into the next one, and I thought she had the stuff to get through them,” Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said. “Really...they capitalized on one pitch. We’ve been living on that one pitch this entire postseason, and they had it tonight.”

The home run brought Bowen’s night to an end. Devyn Netz kept OSU from doing more damage, but the Wildcats were unable to strike back in the top of the seventh.

The Wildcats had five hits, two walks, and two hits by pitches for a total of nine baserunners. Seven were left on base.

Bowen gave up five hits, four walks, and four earned runs in five innings. She also hit two batters. Netz gave up one hit in one inning.

Arizona falls into the losers’ bracket where it will face fellow Pac-12 team Oregon State on Friday at 6:30 p.m. MST. The game will air on ESPN2.

The winner of that game will play again on June 5 against either Oklahoma State or Florida on ESPN2. The loser will be eliminated.