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Wildcats blank Gamecocks to earn Super Regional trip - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Wildcats blank Gamecocks to earn Super Regional trip

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TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona's short game and leadoff hitter Mandie Perez racked up 15 hits to back sophomore pitcher Taylor McQuillin's shut-out pitching and Arizona won its own Regional in the NCAA Softball Championships Regional here at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
 
Perez drove in two runs early and two runs late to give Arizona all the margin and insurance it needed and the bottom of the order – lefty slappers Reyna Carranco, Ashleigh Hughes and Eva Watson – combined for eight hits, two sacrifice hits, three RBI and three runs.
 
McQuillin scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out six in her sixth shutout of the year. She improved to 16-3 on the year.
 
Arizona (51-7) will stay home in Tucson for next weekend's Super Regional play in the Championships and will host Baylor in the best-of-three series for a berth in the Women's College World Series.
 
South Carolina (34-25) threatened in the top of the first, with runners at the corners after a Mackenzie Boesel hit, a ground ball and a hit by Kaylea Snaer, but McQuillin struck out Krystan White on three pitches to strand the pair.
 
Perez followed a Watson single with her sixth home run to give UA a 2-0 lead in the third. It might have been more but SC second baseman Boesel had just made a nice play on Watson's infield single and cut down baserunner Hughes at third.
 
The Gamecocks put two on with a Tiara Duffy single and a walk by Victoria Williams, but McQuillin got a pop foul for the third out.
 
SC left two more runners on base in the fourth. Alyssa VanDerveer and Jordyn Augustus had singles sandwiched around a pair of strikeouts by McQuillin, but UA shortstop Mo Mercado made a nice play to get speedy Kamryn Watts at first to end the inning
 
Arizona, the designated visiting team, stranded three in the top of the fifth. Carranco walked,  Hughes got an infield single and both moved up on a sac bunt by Watson. But SC pitcher Nickie Blue (10-12) got a force out at home and a fly ball to end the threat.
 
Perez capped a four-run sixth for UA with a two-run double. The Cats had six hits in the frame and might have posted more runs but for a baserunning mistake by Hughes, who rounded second on a Watson hit and found third still occupied by Carranco.
 
Arizona, which has played in 31 consecutive NCAA Championships, improved to 163-57 in tournament play and 89-12 in the regional round. The Cats are 64-6 in tournaments played in Tucson.

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