Having barely avoiding an embarrassing loss earlier in the day, the Arizona Wildcats were eliminated tonight by Baylor, 8-4, in the NCAA softball regional.
The UA scored the first two runs, when, after loading the bases in the first, Kelsey Rodriguez singled home one run and Brigette Del Ponte hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
Baylor countered with four in the top of the second on back-to-back two-run doubles by Linsey Hays and Sarah Smith. That chased starter Nancy Bowling for Shelby Babcock, who had lasted only six batters in Friday’s start.
The Wildcats tied the game at 4 in the third when, with two outs, Del Ponte doubled off the centerfield wall. Chelsea Goodacre scored easily, and Kelsey Rodriguez, who had reached on a walk, scored from first on Jordan Strickland’s relay throw error.
When the ball kicked to the left behind home plate, Del Ponte decided to try to run all the way home. She was out — by a good distance — when the catcher shoveled the ball home in time.
Babcock held the Bears scoreless until the fourth, when Strickland singled off third baseman Lauren Young’s glove to plate two with the bases loaded and two out.
Baylor added one each in the sixth and seventh.
The Wildcats’ season ends at 33-26 — and it could have been worse, had the team not rallied in the seventh inning to defeat upstart Penn, 3-2, in eight innings.
The UA was down to its final out against the Ivy League champions when, with a runner on second, Hallie Wilson bounced a single to the left of the shortstop. Mandie Perez, who’d reached on a single and a bunt, hopped over the ball and scored from second.
The UA won the game in the eighth when Goodacre scored on a Rodriguez sacrifice fly.
The Wildcats finished the season 33-26, and missed the super regionals for the first time since the NCAA tournament was expanded in 2005.