PJ Brown Special to the Arizona Daily Star
Arizona wasn’t about to let another game slip through its fingers.
After a heartbreaking loss in Thursday night’s Women’s College World Series opener, the Wildcats came into Friday’s game loose — like they’ve been all postseason — and focused. It was an elimination game, and they weren’t ready to go home just yet.
Arizona waited patiently to break the game wide open. A double to left center field by Carlie Scupin proved to be the game-winner as Arizona edged Pac-12 foe Oregon State 3-1 on Friday night at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
Arizona (39-21) will have Saturday off. On Sunday, it will play the loser of Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma game.
Oregon State heads home with a 39-22 record.
Friday marked Arizona’s first win in the WCWS since 2019. It’s also UA coach Caitlin Lowe’s first win in OKC.
“It feels awesome,” Lowe said of the win. “I told them after the game that they were meant for this stage. And I truly believe they were going to chip away and make it happen. Nothing really got too big. They were amped at the beginning of the game, but they knew they were going to win that game on the stage and I think that’s a big deal. I’ve seen this team grow up in the postseason and go from wanting to be here to knowing they belong here and knowing that they’re going to win here. In three weeks, that’s huge. Just super, super excited for them.”
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Scupin went 3 for 3 with two singles and a double. All three of her hits came off Mariah Mazon, who was back with the Beavers after not playing Thursday night for undisclosed reasons.
Mazon said late Friday that she wasn’t feeling well and that OSU’s medical staff required her to stay in the hotel. She wore a gaiter while hitting and while talking to the media after the game.
Scupin hadn’t gotten a hit off the third-team All-American during the season, but she was locked in on Friday. The double was her 14th of the season.
“I think as a team we all had really good at-bats throughout the game, but we just had to execute at some point,” Scupin said. “It could have been any of us, but we just all had to come through. … I saw a lot of pitches during that at-bat and I just had to make the adjustment. My first two swings were not very pretty, but I just had to trust myself.”
Giulia Koutsoyanopulos pinch-ran for Scupin, and Blaise Biringer placed a hit perfectly to right field to drive in the next run and give UA the 3-1 lead.
Mazon allowed three runs on six hits, walking four and struck out four on 98 pitches.
Arizona tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the second inning when Sophia Carroll doubled to center field, bringing home Biringer.
Devyn Netz started in the circle, pitching five innings and giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out four in a 56-pitch performance.
Lowe said she thought Friday’s performance was a continuation of Netz’s stellar relief appearance in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Oklahoma State.
“She came out on fire and she just went at people … Devyn’s a winner, so when she gets closer and closer, she usually gets better and better,” Lowe said.
Lowe replaced Netz in the sixth inning with Hanah Bowen. The senior retired OSU in order in the sixth inning, throwing just seven pitches. It took a little longer to close out the game in the seventh. Madison Simon walked after a 13-pitch at-bat after fouling off seven pitches. Jasmine Perezchica came running in and slid to catch the final out of the game on a ball hit to short left field.
The Wildcats celebrated another big win.
“It’s just what you live for,” Lowe said. “It’s what makes the game so great when you have that joy for your teammates’ performance. You’ve come full circle and you just get it. You get how to play the game the right way. It’s so important. ‘Soph’ (Carroll) works her butt off every single day. Any good contact, any base hit, she’s the happiest person in the world. And you know what? She’s even happier for a great sacrifice bunt. And that’s just a great teammate. She deserves all of it. And Blaise (Biringer) has been grinding and hasn’t felt great, but found a way and found a way to just bloop something in so we could score a run. (I’m) just very excited about how they’ve stayed the course throughout the season, too.”
• Netz entered Friday’s game with a 0.47 ERA in the postseason.
• Lowe said that Bowen has matured in the circle over the season.
“There was a tough ball-three call on the nine-hole hitter (in the seventh inning) and she might have let that get to her earlier in the season and she just didn’t,” Lowe said. She kept composed with a great leadoff hitter that came up to bat next. That’s, I think, where the maturity comes in and where her leadership comes in. She’s like, ‘So what? Next out.’ I think that was really important.”
Photos: Arizona beats Oregon State 3-1 in Friday’s Women’s College World Series game