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O'Toole's one-hitter leads Arizona to softball regional final - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

O'Toole's one-hitter leads Arizona to softball regional final

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Danielle O'Toole threw no-hit ball for six and one-third innings and Arizona used her mastery over South Carolina's bats to beat the Gamecocks, 5-0, in NCAA action Saturday afternoon here at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
 
The victory puts the Wildcats in Sunday's championship round of the NCAA Softball Championships Regional. SC (33-24) returns to the park later Saturday for a 7 p.m. elimination game.
 
Arizona (50-7) pieced together a four-run fifth inning and rode the bat of Katiyana Mauga,  although it took UA much of the game to overcome stranding 12 base runners.
 
O'Toole struck out five in a row from the end of the third through the start of the fifth innings, then added another to close the fifth. She retired 14 batters in a row down the stretch and did not issue a walk in improving to 29-4 on the year. The lone hit was a double by Victoria Williams with one out in the top of the seventh inning. 
 
Mauga snapped a scoreless tie with a one-out solo home run over the batter's eye in center in the third, giving her a Pac-12 record 91 home runs, passing former UCLA slugger Stacey Nuveman who posted 90 from 1997 to 2002.
 
Dejah Mulipola nearly scored three more off Gamecocks pitcher Nickie Blue (10-11) a few minutes later, sending SC centerfielder Tiara Duffy all the way to the wall in straightaway center for a snag to end the threat.
 
The Cats threatened with runners at the corners and one out in the fourth, but Mandie Perez's bunt was fielded by Blue, who faked to second and threw out Reyna Carranco at the plate. Mauga walked to load the bases. Second baseman Mackenzie Boesel mishandled Jessie Harper's ground ball but the ball deflected to the shortstop for a force to end the rally.
 
Hits by Mulipola and Carranco and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth, and Ashleigh Hughes drew a walk to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Hillary Edior hit a slow roller to second that Boesel dropped, and Edior's slide to first beat the subsequent throw, with Mulipola scoring.
 
Perez hit a bunt single to drive in Carranco, make it 3-0 and chase Blue in favor of reliever Jessica Elliott. Mauga greeted her with a two-run single to center to make it 5-0.
 
Arizona is 63-6 in NCAA Regionals held in Tucson during 20 such host circumstances. South Carolina is 38-42 in 20 bids to the to the tournament.

UA will play at 4 p.m. Sunday, with the opponent  needing a victory in that game to force the if-necessary contest at 6:30 p.m.

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