Twice, fly balls that would have been the final out eluded Arizona outfielders Monday night as UCLA beat the Wildcats 6-5 in extra innings in the opening game of the championship round of the Women’s College World Series.
The Bruins scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, then won it on Megan Langenfeld’s homer to center in the eighth in the first of the best-of-three final series in Oklahoma City.
After losing its WCWS opener, Arizona had to face four elimination games to get to the final round. The Wildcats will try to stave off elimination again. Tuesday night. Game 2 is at 5 p.m. (Arizona time) and will be shown on ESPN2.
Arizona led 5-4 with two out in the seventh. Dani Yudin lofted a fly ball to left field for what looked like the final out. Left fielder Brittany Lastrapes and center fielder Lauren Schutzler both moved for the ball and almost collided. Neither caught it, and Yudin was on second with a double. Arizona decided to intentionally walk Julie Burney, who hit the winning homer to beat the Wildcats in a Pac-10 game last month.
Kaila Shull launched a ball to right. Speedy Karissa Buchanan caught up with it, leaped and got her glove on the ball. But the former Desert Thunder star couldn’t hold on, and Yudin scored to tie the game.
Wildcat ace Kenzie Fowler got the first two batters in the eighth before facing Langenfeld, who hit a shot to center to give the Bruins the victory.
Fowler, the former CDO and Desert Thunder star, pitched the entire game, striking out 12, giving up 12 hits and walking four.
Winner Aleah Macon pitched the final two innings for the Bruins.
Langenfeld, who homered in the first inning, had almost been the losing pitcher, blowing a two-run lead in the seventh.
Schutzler walked, and former McClintock star K’Lee Arredondo homered, just clearing the fence in center. Cactus grad Stacie Chambers then hit a blast to center that cleared the stands and gave Arizona a 5-4 lead.
UCLA took a 4-2 lead with two out in the bottom of the sixth. With a 3-2 count, Monica Harrison hit a drive that hit part of the left field line for a two-run double.
Arizona took a lead in the first when former Sunrise Mountain star Brigette Del Ponte singled home a run. UCLA tied the game in the bottom of the first on Langenfeld’s homer.
Langenfeld’s run-scoring single in the third gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, Schutzler drew a two-out walk and took second when Arredondo singled. Chambers followed with a single, scoring Schutzler.