O'Toole near perfect - Tucson News Now

O'Toole near perfect

Courtesy: Arizona Athletics Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
KNOXVILLE, TN -

Redshirt junior Danielle O'Toole retired the final 21 Tennessee batters, coming a leadoff single in the bottom of the first away from a perfect game, as Arizona advanced to Sunday's regional championship with a 4-0 blanking of the host Volunteers.

On Saturday morning, O'Toole (W, 24-10) pitched the final four innings of Friday's rainout vs. Ohio State, completing a 2-0 shutout of the Buckeyes. Three hours later, her name was on the lineup card once again in what amounted to a virtual must-win game in the winner's bracket vs. Tennessee; the winner needs just one victory on Sunday while the loser will need to win three games in one day, thanks to the rain-altered schedule.

O'Toole allowed a single to the first batter she faced. After that: 21 up, 21 down.

The offense gave her the four runs she needed, and now the Cats are one win away from their eighth NCAA Super Regional in the last nine seasons.

Meanwhile, Tennessee will begin Sunday in need of three wins. First, vs. the winner of Saturday night's Marist-Ohio State game, then two vs. Arizona. The regional championship will begin at approximately 11:30 a.m. MST. Television information is TBD.

O'Toole and Tennessee starter Matty Moss (L, 12-5) dueled for five innings. While O'Toole was nearly perfect, the Wildcats were getting consistent pressure on Moss, but were unable to break through.

In the sixth, Mercado and Mauga hit back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with one out, representing the biggest threat of the game for either team.

Nancy Bowling, whose breakout performance in the regular season finale vs. California earned her a spot back in the lineup, singled to break the scoreless tie and put Arizona ahead 1-0. Lauren Young followed with a single to make it 2-0 before Tamara Statman hit a sacrifice fly to give Arizona a 3-0 lead.

Katiyana Mauga would give the Wildcats a run of insurance in the top of the seventh with an RBI, but O'Toole would not need it.

O'Toole struck out seven in the complete-game victory.

In her last six starts, O'Toole is 6-0 with six complete games, including four shutouts. She has a 0.57 ERA in those starts.

It was the junior's second shutout of Tennessee after blanking the Volunteers 1-0 back on Feb. 27. Now, in four games vs. three of the SEC's top teams, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama, O'Toole has not allowed an earned run in 27.1 innings pitched.

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