TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The middle of Baylor's order feasted on Arizona pitching and the Bears beat the Wildcats, 6-5, to win the best-of-three Super Regional play here Sunday and earn a berth in the Women's College World Series.
Ari Hawkins, Shelby Friudenberg and Shelby McGlaun combined for seven hits, five runs and six RBI off Arizona pitchers Danielle O'Toole and Taylor McQuillin (16-4). Gia Rodoni (18-3) won in relief for the Bears.
Baylor (48-13) became only the third team (other than UA) ever to qualify for the Women's College World Series out of Tucson regionals or Super Regionals. Louisiana-Lafayette did in 2004 under the old format and Oklahoma did in the 2012 Super Regional play at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Baylor will play Oklahoma in first-round action at the WCWS in Oklahoma City beginning Thursday, June 1. Arizona concluded it 2017 season with a 52-9 record.
Baylor will be making its fifth appearance in the WCWS.
Baylor had two hits sandwiched around a groundball to post the first run. Kyla Walker hit an infield single, Hawkins reached on an error by third baseman Katiyana Mauga and Friundenberg doubled to drive in Walker.
UA had a chance to take the lead but for a baserunning gaffe. With one out, Mauga was walked intentionally for the fourth time in the series, then Mo Mercado doubled to left to put both in scoring position. BU pitcher Kelsee Selman's wild pitch scored Mauga but Mercado was cut down in a half-bid to also reach the plate. Jessie Harper followed with a single that would have plated the run.
Baylor regained the lead in the top of the third. Hawkins hit an infield single and Friudenberg socked her 11th home run to make it 3-1.
Arizona knotted the score in the bottom of the fifth. Ashleigh Hughes singled and with two outs, Perez (normal) and Mauga (intentional) walked to load the bases. Mercado singled in Hughes and Harper singled in Perez.
Baylor appeared to take a one-run lead in the sixth but runner Taylor Ellis missed the bag at third after three consecutive singles by her, Lindsey Cargill and Walker. It was appealed by UA and the third out was called.
Mulipola dumped a spinning triple down the right-field line to open the sixth and Carranco singled her in to give UA a 4-3 lead. Hughes followed with a single and Baylor pulled Selman and brought Rodoni in to pitch. Eva Watson moved everyone up with a sacrifice bunt and Perez hit a bunt single to load the bases.
The Bears had to pitch to Mauga this time, and she hit a high fly to center for the second out. Mercado drew a walk to drive in another run. Rodoni struck out Harper and UA left the bases loaded for the second consecutive inning, but had the 5-3 lead.
Baylor fought back quickly. McQuillin came in to pitch for UA in the seventh. Hawkins doubled to center and Friudenberg was walked intentionally again. McGlaun launched a home run to deep center to give the Bears a 6-5 margin and tag McQuillin with the loss.
Tamara Statman drew a walk to lead off the UA seventh but pinch runner Alexis Dotson was cut down trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. Mulipola drew another walk and Baylor brought back in Selman to pitch. She walked Carranco, but got Hughes to fly out and got pinch-hitter Nancy Bowling to ground to second. It was Selman's sixth save.