Host Arizona shuts out Bison in NCAA softball regional
TUCSON, Ariz.—North Dakota State right-hander Jacquelyn Sertic fought her way through trouble early Saturday, May 19, before host and No. 14-seed Arizona pulled away late.
The Wildcats advanced to the finals of the NCAA Tucson Regional with a 6-0 victory over the Bison at Hillenbrand Stadium, when left-hander Taylor McQuillin gave up only two singles in her 15th shutout of the season to send the Bison into the final game of three games Saturday.
The Bison (34-18) were scheduled to face off against the winner of the elimination game between Mississippi State and St. Francis (Pa.) later Saturday. The winner of that game must beat Arizona twice on Sunday, May 20, to advance to the super regional.
Not that it has been an impediment before.
After splitting the first two games of the Eugene Regional in 2015, the Bison won the third game of the tournament game before falling to host Oregon in the final round Sunday.
"You want to get to Sunday," Bison coach Darren Mueller said. "Then you have a chance to the championship, and that's what you are trying to do. They are pretty resilient."
The Bison have played in regional finals twice since 2009, winning the Oklahoma regional in 2009.
Senior Sertic, the winning pitcher in Friday's 5-4 victory over Mississippi State, gave up 10 hits while throwing her 31st complete game. She struck out three, walked four and hit two.
"I don't think she had her best stuff, but obviously Arizona is very good, and you have to have your best stuff to stop them," Mueller said. "She battled and that's what you want to try to do. We had to play a perfect game in some aspects, and on our end we didn't do that."
The Bison tied a season high with three errors, and three of the Wildcats' runs were unearned, including two of three in the sixth inning when they grabbed a 5-0 lead.
"We've had pretty good defense this year," Mueller said. "Just little things, like watching the ball in and not moving our feet at time. Those little things added some runs. We have to come back and shake it off."
Montana DeCamp singled over shortstop with two outs in the second inning for the Bison's only hit in the first four innings.
Vanessa Anderson drew a walk with two outs in the fourth inning, the Wildcats pitching carefully to her after she tripled and homered in the victory over Mississippi State on Friday.
McQuillin had one stretch in which she got four outs on four pitches. She retired the Bison on three pitches in the third inning while holding a 1-0 lead and got the leadoff batter on one pitch in the fourth.
"She did not a nice job," Mueller said. "She mixes it in and out. I thought our at-bats weren't the best, but she's good. We watched her last night and had an idea of what she was going to do, and she did it to us."
Madyson Camacho's bunt single on the third-base side of the mound with two outs in the fifth inning was the Bison's only other hit.
Arizona scored in the first and third for a 2-0 lead but it could have been worse. Sertic stranded eight in the first four innings.
Arizona broke through in the sixth, when an error by third baseman Julian Luciano led to two unearned runs. Shortstop DeCamp's error in the seventh led to the final run.
Mueller made a strategic call with two outs in the fourth, choosing to walk No. 3 hitter Palomino, a left-handed hitter, to load the bases for righty Jessie Harper, who homered to account for the only run in a 1-0 first-round victory over St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday.
Sertic got Harper to swing through a fastball to end the inning, keeping the Wildcats' lead at 2-0.
"We'd heard not to throw to her," Mueller said. "It was in the back of my mind. so let's not do that."