Arizona softball trounces LSU to advance to Super Regionals

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona rebounded from a loss to LSU earlier in the day with a dominant 13-5 walk-off victory Sunday that earned the Wildcats the NCAA tournament’s Tucson Regional title and a berth in next week’s Super Regionals.

Shelby Babcock (6-0) pitched a six-hitter and Arizona clouted 14 hits, including a walk-off, two-run home run by Mo Mercado in the bottom of the fifth.

With the win, the Wildcats earned their ninth Super Regional berth in 10 tries under the current format.

Arizona (44-14) chased LSU starter Kelsee Selman (6-3), a freshman, in the first inning with four hard-hit balls, the first a home run by leadoff batter Hallie Wilson. Two outs later, Chelsea Goodacre singled, Selman walked Katiyana Mauga, Mo Mercado singled in Goodacre and Lauren Young singled. 

LSU (38-24) then brought in Game 6 winner Baylee Corbello, who gave up an RBI infield single to Courtney Rodriguez. She struck out Chelsea Suitos to end the inning, but the Wildcats had batted around and opened up a 3-0 lead.

The Tigers quickly put a runner in scoring position with a hit by Bianka Bell and a walk issued by Babcock to Tammy Wray. Sandra Simmons moved them both up with a sac bunt, and an out later, Babcock hit Constance Quinn to load the bases. But Jacee Blades hit a soft liner to short to allow Arizona to get out of the jam.

The Wildcats got going again in the second, sending seven to the plate. Corbello gave up a hit to Wilson and walked Kelsey Rodriguez to open the frame, but a double play eased the situation while moving Wilson to third. After Goodacre walked, Mauga ripped a double down the line to bring in a run. Mercado then beat out an infield single to drive in Goodacre for a 5-0 Arizona lead.

Sahvanna Jaquish hit her fourth home run of the weekend after a hit by Bailey Landry to put LSU on the board in the top of the third. It was her 17th of the year. An out later, Wray slugged her sixth of the year to make it a two-run game at 5-3. 

The Wildcats had an answer to the Tigers’ rally, though, as Kelsey Rodriguez followed a Wilson two-out single with a homer, her ninth of the year, in the bottom of the third.  

The Cats rallied again in the fourth, batting around to break the game open. Suitos had an RBI single, Wilson drove in a pair with a single and Fox hit a sacrifice fly to make it 11-3.

LSU avoided a shortened game — for a few minutes, anyway — after Babcock walked a pair of batters in the top of the inning and Simmons, on a 3-2 count and with Arizona a strike away from a mercy-rule win, knocked a double over center fielder Courtney Rodriguez’s head to drive in two and make it 11-5. 

After Corbello walked Mauga to open the Wildcats’ fifth, Mercado lifted a bomb beyond the left-field fence for the winning eight-run margin.

In the early game, Corbello tossed a three-hitter to lead LSU to a 5-1 victory and force a seventh game in the regional.

Corbello struck out four and walked eight but kept Arizona off-balance and got some help from her defense.

Estela Pinon took the loss for the Wildcats despite a solid performance in the circle. She scattered eight hits but got little run support from the Arizona offense, which stranded 10 base runners.