OKLAHOMA CITY - Arizona had work to do on Sunday if it even wanted to get to the Women’s College World Series championship round. Lucky for the Wildcats, pitcher Taryne Mowatt had everything working.
Mowatt tossed a pair of four-hitters as Arizona beat Pac-10 rival Washington twice, 2-0 and 8-1, to advance to the best-of-three championship series that opens at 5 p.m. today.
Defending champion Arizona (48-13-1) will take on Tennessee (62-6), which beat Northwestern 3-0 behind a two-hit, 17-strikeout performance from Monica Abbott.
So far in the WCWS, Abbott (49-3) has not allowed a run and has given up just eight hits in 21 innings. The USA Softball collegiate player of the year held Arizona to six hits in Tennessee’s 1-0 win over Arizona on Friday.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Arizona outfielder Caitlin Lowe said. “She’s going to come at us with the same game plan. We just need to make our adjustments before she does.”
Abbott and Tennessee also beat Arizona 1-0 at the World Series last year, but the Wildcats came back to beat the Vols 6-0 to advance to the finals of the double-elimination tournament.
“I think there’s a difference from past seasons to now,” Tennessee co-coach Karen Weekly said of Abbott. “I think it’s about developing more pitches and working more up and down in the zone, and I think that’s made a big difference. And then I think her mental game is outstanding, her poise on the mound, her confidence, her maturity.
“You can just see the focus in her eyes every game here.”
Washington starter Danielle Lawrie (31-13) had been as dominant as Abbott, throwing a no-hitter and allowing only two hits in 17 shutout innings at the World Series before topseeded Arizona rallied for two runs in the sixth inning of the first game.
In the second game on Sunday, Arizona got to Lawrie early with Jenae Leles’ two-run double in the first inning. She finished with four RBIs, and Chelsie Mesa added three hits, drove in two runs and scored three times to lead Arizona’s offense.