TUCSON, Ariz.— A four-run sixth helped propel Baylor (47-13) to a come-from-behind, 6-4 victory over Arizona (52-8) and force a winner-take-all game Sunday in the Super Regional of the NCAA Softball Championships. At stake – a berth in the Women's College World Series next week.
The Bears's big inning came off of UA ace Danielle O'Toole (30-5), who entered in the sixth with a save opportunity for starter but left with the defeat. Kelsee Selman (24-8) earned the victory for Baylor in a complete-game effort .
Sunday's deciding game in the beat-of-three series starts at 4 p.m. as the Wildcats will be the home team as the higher seed in the match-up.
Baylor, the designated home team, had a pair of runners aboard in the first, but UA's Taylor McQuillin struck out Shelby McGlaun to thwart a rally.
Arizona had runners on second and third with two outs in the third but came up empty. Mandie Perez led off with a double and BU pitcher Kelsee Selman walked Katiyana Mauga intentionally for the second time.
Mo Mercado hit into a force at third. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, but Jessie Harper struck out and Tamara Statman flied out to strand the pair.
Baylor took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, in part because of poor defense by the Cats. Shelby Friudenberg hit a one-out single. McGlaun fouled out. Maddison Kettler singled to advance pinch runner Riley Browder to third, and reached second when UA shortstop Mo Mercado threw wildly trying to get Kettler going back to the bag. Jessie Scroggins singled in Browder, and Kettler scored when UA centerfielder Eva Watson mishandled the ball. One run was unearned.
The Wildcats responded in the top of the fifth. Perez beat out an infield single and Mauga drew another walk. After a force out, Baylor catcher Sydney Christensen's error on a failed pickoff attempt allowed both runners to move up, and Jessie Harper hit a two-run single off the fence in right. One of the runs was unearned.
UA took the lead in the sixth. Reyna Carranco drew a walk, moved up on a passed ball and two outs later scored on a Perez single to short center. Mauga walked for the fourth time, intentionally, and Mercado singled to left to drive in Perez for a 4-2 margin.
BU answered with a Friudenberg two-out double in the bottom of the frame and Arizona brought in ace Danielle O'Toole. McGlaun beat out an infield single to move Friudenberg to third. O'Toole struck out Kettler, but Scroggins slapped a single to shortstop to drive in a run. The Bears tied it with a double down the left field line by Christensen. Another double, by Taylor Ellis, emptied the bases and made it 6-4.