May 21, 2012 1:59 AM
TUCSON--Arizona (38-17) socked 14 hits to beat Notre Dame (40-16), 8-3, to win the NCAA Softball Championships regional here and earn a trip to Norm an, Okla., for a Super Regional against the Oklahoma Sooners next weekend.
Shelby Babcock (21-9) gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out three for a steady performance in the circle and her teammates clouted four home runs, two by Chelsea Goodacre, to keep UA on top.
The Wildcats batted around in the second and put up the first runs with two out. Jessica Spigner walked, Kristen Arriola singled to left, and Chelsea Suitos' slap single up the middle scored Spigner. Hallie Wilson followed with a dink single just over second base that scored Arriola and Suitos. Brigette Del Ponte collected her seventh NCAA hit with a single to left to drive in Buchanan.
The Irish got on the board in the third. Chloe Saganowich doubled, Jenna Simon singled her to third, and she scored on a sacrifice fly by Alexa Maldonadouto. Kelsey Thorton beat out an infield hit to put runners on the corners but UA shortstop Shelby Pendley cut down Simon at the plate to save a run off Amy Buntin's grounder.
Arizona benefitted from a runner's interference call in the fourth, otherwise Saganowich's two-run homer could have been a grand slam in the fourth. Emilee Koerner walked but was called for interfering with Pendley's throw to first after being forced out on Katey Haus' grounder . Kasey O'Connor singled and then Saganowich socked her second home run of the year to cut UA's lead to 4-3.
Arizona freshmen Shelby Pendley and Chelsea Goodacre slugged back-to-back home runs to right field to open the Cats' fifth, making it 6-3.
Goodacre and Spigner added solo home runs in the top of the seventh to give UA its final runs, and chased Notre Dame's Laura Winter (29-11).
The victory gave UA a mark of 78-6 in NCAA Regional action over its 26 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Softball Championships.
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