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For the first time, the Women’s College World Series had “Elimination Friday” as two teams went home on the tournament’s second day.
UCLA and Northwestern were tapped for the first win-or-go-home matchup, while PAC-12 foes Arizona and Oregon State took part in the second.
In Game One, it all was UCLA and Megan Faraimo, as the Bruins’ ace pitched her team to victory and added some insurance with her bat.
Faraimo put on quite the show in the pitching circle, throwing a 7-inning complete game and allowing five hits and just one run. She struck out ten Northwestern batters, including former all-American Rachel Lewis who came to bat with bases loaded in the fifth inning.
NORTHWESTERN SOFTBALL STAR SQUATS LIKE A CHAMP
After Lewis — easily Northwestern’s most dangerous hitter — started with a 3-0 count, Faraimo painted the inside corner on three consecutive pitches. Lewis never took the bat off her shoulder and the backward K got UCLA out of the inning with minimal damage.
In the next half-inning, Faraimo launched a ball about ten rows deep into the leftfield bleachers. It was only her third hit of the NCAA tournament and her first home run; the longball gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
Three runs in the seventh inning on an RBI single and a pair of fielder’s choices gave UCLA three more runs and vaulted the score to its ultimate final, a 6-1 UCLA win. The Bruins survived and advanced through the bracket.
Northwestern became the first team to be eliminated from the Women’s College World Series with the loss.
In the second and final game on Friday, a game that began after 9:30 pm local time, two West Coast, PAC-12 teams faced off. As the higher-seeded team, Arizona occupied the home dugout and ultimately came out victorious.
A 1-1 tie stretched for much of the game. Oregon State ace Mariah Mazon returned to the circle after being absent for Thursday’s opener. Arizona young standout Devyn Netz occupied the circle for her team.
Both pitchers threw well, ending the day with a combined eight strikeouts and nine hits allowed.
The sixth inning made all the difference for UA as standout slugger Carlie Scupin knocked an RBI double that broke the tie and gave Arizona the lead for the first time in the game. A few batters later, a Blaise Biringer RBI single added some extra insurance for the Cats.
Hanah Bowen closed the game in the circle for Arizona, pitching the final two innings. Bowen, who has carried UA in the circle for much of the postseason, despite battling injuries during the regular season, allowed two walks but no hits or runs in her two innings of work.
Arizona’s victory was also the first WCWS win for rookie head coach Caitlin Lowe. Lowe and Oregon State coach Laura Berg, former longtime teammates on the US Olympic and national team, shared a lengthy embrace after the game and spoke after the game about the immense respect they have for one another.
Oregon State’s season came to a close with the loss, as they were the second team eliminated from the Women’s College World Series in their second appearance on the stage.
Both UCLA and Arizona will have Saturday off and will return to action Sunday; every game is an elimination game the rest of the way for both teams until the championship Finals. On Sunday, the Bruins and Cats will face the losers of Saturday’s matchups.
On Saturday, the Red River Rivalry will hit the softball diamond when Oklahoma and Texas face off at 3 pm ET on ABC. A showdown between Florida and Oklahoma State will be Saturday night’s nightcap. The winners of Saturday’s games will secure themselves a spot in Monday’s WCWS semifinals.