SB: Wilson drives in six as Cats beat LSU - Tucson News Now

SB: Wilson drives in six as Cats beat LSU

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Tucson, AZ -

An infrequent 5-3-6 double play in the seventh inning helped Arizona overcome another late charge by LSU and the Wildcats beat the Tigers, 9-8, in nail-biting NCAA Softball Championships winner's bracket action to move into the regional championship game on Sunday.

Arizona first baseman Hallie Wilson -- whose two home runs and six RBI led the Cats at the plate -- took a throw from third baseman Lauren Young and returned a gun to shortstop Kellie Fox at third to nail Sandra Simmons, who represented the game's tying run, for the third and final out in the game.

"The thing about our team is that we are not full of superstars," said Wilson. "Our team is full of the girls that got kicked to the curb and have had to come right back. We're those girls, we're fighters and we are always ready for what's ahead, and want it."

Arizona (43-13) will play the Tigers (37-23) again on Sunday in the Regional championship. LSU beat Boston U. 8-3 in an elimination game Saturday night and must beat the Wildcats twice on Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals. One win for Arizona would give UA their 25th regional championship.

UA's Estela Pinon won with her ninth complete game to improve to 19-7, but not without drama and struggle. She gave up eight hits, walked four, hit two batters and struck out four. All the runs were earned.

"Honestly it's just one pitch at a time for me," said Pinon. "That's all it is. I don't focus on the next batter, I trust my girls behind me, and I focus on what's in front of me, at that moment, and trying to get ahead."

Baylee Corbello (18-9) took the loss in her 23rd complete game. She also was not in top form, allowing 10 hits, hitting a batter, walking seven and striking out three.

LSU had a runner in scoring position after A.J. Andrews led off the game with a single, and two outs later stole second, her 36th steal of the year. But Pinon got a foul popup from Bianka Bell to strand the runner.

UA started similarly, with a leadoff single by Hallie Wilson. A sac bunt by Kelsey Rodriguez moved her to second. Corbello got a fly out, then hit Chelsea Goodacre with a pitch to put two aboard, but struck out Katiyana Mauga to strand a pair. 

UA put runs on the board with a two-out rally and the long ball in the second. 

Courtney Rodriguez singled up the middle, Chelsea Suitos singled off the glove of third baseman Tammy Wray and then Hallie Wilson drove the first pitch deep to left center that caromed off the top of the wall and fielder Andrews' glove, squirting 100 feet toward the line and giving Wilson an inside-the-park home run, her 14th of the year. 

"I've seen some crazy things, but nothing like that," said Wildcats head coach Mike Candrea. "Stuff like that is just unpredictable, which to me is the greatest part about the game."

Kelsey Rodriguez socked the next pitch over the fence in left center for a 4-0 lead and her eighth homer of the year.

It signaled the end of scoreless ball. LSU's Wray ripped a liner over the left field fence to open the third, and then Bailey Landry tugged a double down the line in left. Two outs later, Jaquish drew a walk and Bell slugged her 13th home run of the season to knot the score, 4-4.

Each team had two runners on base with one out in the fourth inning but first Pinon and then Corbello pitched out of the jams. Pinon also walked two with one out in the fifth, but struck out a pair to end that threat.

Corbello walked two in the bottom of the inning and it hurt. Wilson came through with another two-out home run, this one straight to right -- and over the fence for a 7-4 lead. The rally kept going with a single by Kelsey Rodriguez, a double by Kellie Fox to move both into scoring position, and a two-run single by Goodacre, who was thrown out trying for a two-base hit and a 9-4 margin.

Pinon retired the first two batters in the sixth, but Landry socked her second homer of the year to left to make it 9-5. .

In the seventh, Pinon issued a leadoff walk to Jacee Blades, an infield single to Jaquish and hit Bell to load the bases. Kellsi Kloss' groundball drove in two when pinch runner Alex Boulet ran through a coach's stop sign and beat a throw to the plate to make it 9-7.

A single by Sandra Simmons drove in Bell to make it 9-8. And then, Allison Falcon's grounder to third started the game-clinching double play, with Young looking back Simmons long enough to give Wilson a chance on the return throw.

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