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The Arizona Wildcats softball team advanced to the NCAA Super Regional in LSU by defeating a gritty Minnesota team 7-6 in eight innings at Hillenbrand Stadium on Sunday night.
Kellie Fox lined a one-out single to left field, scoring Chelsea Suitos for the walk-off winning run in a game that was full of seesaw drama.
Arizona (41-18) led 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh before Minnesota rallied for four runs. It appeared to be a replay of what happened earlier in the day when the Golden Gophers staved off elimination with a 5-2 win on a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh by Paige Palkovich.
The Wildcats responded in the bottom of the seventh in the second game with Chelsea Goodacre’s two-run home run.
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YES! Geaux Cats! So pumped to be having y'all come to Louisiana! Louisiana IS Wildcat Country! https://t.co/eyxrQztyfX
Great win for U of A Softball ! Much respect for Coach Candrea , he is a true Wildcat , 30yrs on the job! Wow
Your 2015 Tucson Regional champions pic.twitter.com/2GfP4ne67t
In the bottom of the eighth, Hallie Wilson, who earlier hit a home run for Arizona, grounded out to start the inning. Suitos followed with what appeared to be a double, but instead of stopping at second (disregarding coach Mike Candrea’s signal at the coach’s box), she extended the hit to her first career triple.
Fox followed with her single to left field. Suitos easily beat the throw to home for the winning score. The Wildcats ran out of the dugout, mugging Fox in celebration by first base.
“We showed a lot of heart today,” Fox told The Arizona Daily Star’s Zack Rosenblatt. “We were gonna battle to the very end and leave our hearts on the field to the very end and that’s exactly what we did.
“We’ve never made it to the World Series. And that’s our goal. We’re so close.”
Arizona now travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on LSU next weekend in the Super Regionals. Arizona and LSU met in last year’s Tucson Regional, where the Wildcats beat LSU in two of three games. The Wildcats need two wins to advance to their first Women’s College World Series since 2010.
The Wildcats lost to LSU 4-3 in the Mary Nutter Classic on Feb. 20 in Palm Springs, Calif. The Wildcats’ comeback came up short as the Wildcats’ three-run sixth inning was not enough. Arizona outhit LSU 9-7, including a three-hit game from Eva Watson. The Wildcats stranded nine runners.
The box score from tonight’s thrilling win over Minnesota is available at this link.
The new Arizona Softball, where your heart gets jumped on and then you skydive with a stick of TNT, is not like the old days.