Arizona's Pac-12 honors winners showed why in helping lead Arizona (49-7) to an 11-0 victory over New Mexico State (29-24) in Game 2 of the NCAA Softball Championships Regional here at Arizona's Hillenband Stadium.
Danielle O'Toole (28-4), pitcher of the year, threw three innings of shutout ball to win in three innings of work in the five-inning game. She struck out four, walked one and gave up singles to Rachel Rodriguez and Victoria Castro.
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UA slugger Katiyana Mauga, co-player of the year, posted the first runs of the game with a record-tying home run after an infield hit by Mandie Perez in the first.
Her 23rd bomb gave her 90 for her career, tying former UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman, and moved her within five of ex-Oklahoma power hitter Lauren Chamberlain's NCAA record of 95.
The bad news on the night was announced by UA Softball after the game when the program issued a press release stating that freshman slugger Alyssa Palomino would miss the remainder of the post-season with a torn ACL in her left knee.
The redshirt freshman sat out all of the 2016 season with a torn ACL in her right knee. She returned this season to hit 16 home runs with a team second 54 runs batted in.
Arizona sent 11 batters to the plate in the third to blow the game open. Tamara Statman hit a two-run double to give UA a 4-0 edge and send NMSU starter and Cienega High School 2015 grad Kayla Green (12-16) to the dugout, and UA's Dejah Mulipola greeted reliever Samaria Diaz with a home run to right to make it 6-0, momentarily.
Mandie Perez hit a three-run home run later in the seven-run third inning.
Taylor McQuillin came on in relief of O'Toole in the top of the fourth and finished the game in superb fashion, striking out the side in both her innings of work.
The Wildcats, the overall No. 2 Seed making their 31st-consecutive appearance in the tournament as the Pac-12 champion, move to the 2 p.m. game Saturday against South Carolina.
The Aggies, Western Athletic Conference co-champions and winner of the league's tourney, will play the first elimination game of the Regional at 4:30 p.m. against Saint Francis. NMSU is making its third NCAA appearance, all visits to Tucson.
Earlier at Hillendbrand Stadium, South Carolina's Cayla Drotar (7-4) tossed a four-hitter and her teammates roughed up Saint Francis' pitching to lead the Gamecocks to a 12-2 victory in the first game of Tucson’s NCAA Softball Championships Regional.
SC (33-23) had two home runs by Mackenzie Boesel including a walk-off three-run blast in the fifth, and one each from Victoria Williams and Alyssa VanDerveer. Boesel drove in eight runs.
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David Kelly contributed to this story.
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