May 19, 2014 1:01 AM by KVOA Sports
TUCSON - It took a little longer than they had hoped, but the Arizona softball team held off LSU in the Regional Championship here Sunday. The Wildcats now advance to the Super Regionals, or round of 16.
The Wildcats and Tigers threw the opening pitch at 1:30 Sunday afternoon but didn't wrap up play until the evening. LSU used a dominant pitching performance and some timely hits to earn a 5-1 win, forcing a winner-take-all Game 2 at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Wildcats looked like a different team in the second game. Hallie Wilson, the MVP of the Regional, started things off with a home run and Arizona never looked back. The Cats put up 14 hits in the win. Senior Shelby Babcock pitched the entire contest, giving up only six hits. But it was freshman Mo Mercado with the play to be remembered.
LSU faced a run-rule defeat in the top of the fifth inning after Shelby Babcock retired the first two batters. But the Tigers, ever resilient, tacked on two runs to extend the game to the bottom half of the inning. When Mercado stepped up to the plate with one runner on base, she had a good idea of what pitch to look for.
"I was expecting something inside and I got it," she said after the game. "I just unloaded."
Mercado unloaded a two run home run that pushed the Cats lead to eight and ended the game in a run-rule victory. (If a team leads by eight runs or more after the opponent has batted five times, the game is called via a run-rule.)
The win advances the Wildcats to their ninth Super Regionals berth in the past 10 years since the format was adopted. Arizona heads to Louisiana Lafayette with a chance to move to the College Softball World Series.