ASU, UA both win NCAA Region softball titles

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Both Arizona State and University of Arizona softball teams won their regionals and will prepare this week for Super Regional play.  The Sun Devils will play the Florida Gators in Gainsville, Fla., and the Wildcats stay at home to host Brigham Young at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium Friday night.

ASU won the Amherst Regional at UMass by beating Boston University in the opener, 6-1, and then downing Long Island University twice.  This will be the Devils’ fifth consecutive trip to the Super Regionals.

Katelyn Boyd went 3-for-3 against Boston and Hillary Bach notched her 24th win on the mound.  The second game was a pitcher’s duel between Megan Elliott (11-2) and Long Island’s ace, Blaire Porter (28-7).  ASU broke the scoring deadlock in the third inning on an RBI from Annie Lockwood, and then Caylyn Carlson’s pinch-hit single brought home two more runs in the fifth, and the Devils held on for the 3-2 win.

But the final game in the winner’s bracket against Long Island was a different story, as the Devils closed out the game in five innings with a 9-1 victory to send them on to Gainsville.  Bach was on the mound again, improving her record to 25-7, and Kaylyn Castillo contributed a 4-for-4 performance at the plate.  Carlson pitched in with another home run, this time to left field for three more runs to make it 7-0 and put the game out of reach.

UofA opened their Regional with a 9-0 win against Cornell at Hillenbrand Stadium.  The victory marked the 23rd consecutive time the Cats have won the Region opener.

By the second inning, after Stacie Chambers doubled and Brigette Del Ponte notched her 21st home run of the season, the Cats were already up 6-0.  Then Brittany Lastrapes hit an RBI double and Lauren Schutzler homered in the fifth to wrap up the game on the run-rule.

The Cats then beat Hofstra twice to punch their ticket to the Super Regional.  They collected 12 hits in the first game, and Kenzie Fowler tossed a one-hit, complete-game shutout for a 6-0 win.  Lastrapes and Chambers fueled the attack again with home runs, Lastrapes hitting a two-run shot in the third and Chambers smacking a lead-off home run in the fifth.

But the finale didn’t come as easily.  It took three hours and 40 minutes for the Cats to take Hofstra down a second time.  Fowler again started the game and threw 204 pitches before being taken out in the 12th inning, when Hofstra ran up a 6-4 lead in the top of that inning.  Sarah Akamine pitched to the final two batters to earn the win in relief.

In the bottom of the 12th, UofA was able to pull it out when K’Lee Arredondo tied the game with a two-run triple and Lini Koria put the lid on it with a grand slam home run to give the Cats a 10-6 victory.

The game was the third-longest tournament game in UofA history.

Winners at the eight Super Regional sites will travel to Oklahoma City to begin the Women’s College World Series on June 3.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)