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NCAA Softball: Arizona gets the 1st win under Caitlin Lowe at the Women’s College World Series

arizona-softball-oregon-state-wcws-recap-analysis-stats-netz-bowen-scupin Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

OKLAHOMA CITY — A team effort in the circle, in the batter’s box, and on the field. That’s what first-year Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe and her players credited for their 3-1 win over Oregon State to stave off elimination at the Women’s College World Series.

“It’s amazing,” said senior pitcher Hanah Bowen. “Cait is phenomenal. She has so much knowledge of the game. I love feeding off of her. She deserves it.”

In the circle, Devyn Netz and Bowen combined to pitch a three-hit, three-walk game. Netz struck out four, walked one, and gave up one earned run in five innings. Bowen walked two in two innings and picked up the win to improve to 14-11 on the season.

Netz pitched a strong first inning, striking out two of the three batters she faced. Things got difficult in the second when Oregon State used its typical small-ball approach to score the first run: two singles, a sac bunt to move the runners, and a sac fly to score.

“At this level, everyone is going to score at least one run, two runs,” Netz said. “This is postseason, so this is going to be a tight game no matter what.”

As has been the case so many times this postseason, Arizona was able to strike back immediately. A single, a strikeout, and a fielder’s choice gave the Wildcats a runner at first with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Sophia Carroll came to the plate and hit a long single that scored Blaise Biringer from first. It was a new ballgame.

“Soph works her butt off every single day,” Lowe said. “Any good contact, any base hit, she is the happiest person in the world. You know what she’s even happier for? A great sac bunt. That’s just a good teammate. She deserves all of it. Blaise has been grinding, hasn’t felt great, but found a way to bloop something in so we could score a run. Very excited about how they’ve kind of stayed the course throughout the season, too.”

Netz settled in, too. After the hiccup in the top of the second, she sat down nine of the next ten batters before being lifted for Bowen in the sixth inning. A day after deciding not to remove Bowen when Oklahoma State had begun making solid contact with her, Lowe took Netz out early.

“I think they were starting to hit some balls hard,” Lowe said. “Our defense was doing a great job, but then Bow comes in and she provides a different look. Just a different eye level. Anytime you can do that as a hitter, at least you have to make the adjustment to execute. I thought it was just a good time for Bow to come in fresh and Devyn to come out on a high note, too.”

Oregon State countered Netz and Bowen with their own fifth-year senior, Mariah Mazon. Mazon took the circle after being held out of Thursday’s game by the OSU medical staff. She gave up six hits, four walks, and three earned runs in six innings.

She, too, buckled down after giving up a run in the second inning. She allowed one baserunner in each of the next three innings but kept the Wildcats from getting the go-ahead run.

Arizona eventually kicked the door open in the sixth. Izzy Pacho led off the inning with a walk. With Amber Toven running for Pacho, a Scupin double brought the runner around from first to put the Wildcats up 2-1.

Arizona repeated the trick. Giulia Koutsoyanopulos ran for Scupin. A Blaise Biringer single down the rightfield line brought Koutsoyanopulos around from first to score an insurance run.

Arizona now advances to play the loser of Saturday’s game between Texas and Oklahoma. The Wildcats next take the field on Sunday.