Arizona Experience Too Much For Howard
Arizona's Experience Too Much For Howard University
Tuscon, AR-May 18---The University of Arizona parlayed a masterful no-hit performance by its ace, run production from its power hitters, and tournament experience to shut out Howard University, 9-0 in the opening round of the NCAA women's softball Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The defending champion Wildcats (40-12-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Bison (35-20) in the bottom of the first inning following the first of some costly mistakes. Howard settled down from there and appeared in good shape even after a solo homer by Arizona up the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third.
"We started out a little jittery," said Howard Coach Tonja Braxton in her first NCAA tournament. "Even in the warm-ups, I could see we were a little anxious. We were not as loose as we normally are and I am sure that had an effect on how we played."
She continued, "But we settled down and I felt we were in good shape until the fourth inning when it all fell apart."
Howard ace Dale McNeal (21-12) pulled a muscle in her back in the third inning when she fielded a bunt and it caused her to leave the game. She was relieved by freshman Christina McCoy and the six-time NCAA champs took advantage of the opportunity, scoring six runs to all but put the game away.
"I pulled a muscle in my back and it affected how I was pitching at that time," explained McNeal. "I think that had I been able to stay in the game at that point, we would have been able to control it a little more. But you can't take anything away from Arizona. It is a reason they who they are. They take advantage of your mistakes."
Meanwhile, Arizona ace Taryne Mowatt never was in trouble, striking out 12 of the 16 batters she faced and walked only one batter while allowing no hits. The middle of the Bison lineup, freshman right fielder Courtney, sophomore third baseman Kristina Cordova and sophomore first baseman Jennifer Bien-Aime, went 0-for-5 and struck out a combined five times. Cordova and Young came into the game batting .422 and .416, respectively.
"I expected their pitching to be strong and I expected some of the people to make the contributions they did," said Braxton. "But what I did not expect was our people to did not make a more significant contribution."
The Bison will now take on Pacific on Saturday at 4 pm Mountain time in the loser's bracket of the double elimination tournament.
"We are going to have a little meeting and come back ready to play tomorrow," said Braxton. "We learned a lot from this and we still have another game. We'll be ready."