by Dave Devine
Arizona finished the regular season with a mediocre record, and then placed third in a regional playoff tournament. Despite that, the Wildcats qualified for the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) World Series, held in Omaha, Neb. It was Arizona's third appearance at the World Series, with the team's best previous finish being seventh.
In its opening game against Texas-Arlington, Arizona came up for their last at bat trailing, 3-1. With two on, a single scored one run, and two successive errors on the play plated two more--leading to a thrilling, come-from-behind Wildcats victory.
The next game in the double-elimination tournament was against the host school, Nebraska-Omaha.
"It's going to be a killer," UA coach Ginny Parrish told the Arizona Daily Star. "They'll definitely have the home-crowd advantage. Over 2,000 people watched the games today, and they were not only yelling, but they also had drums, bugles--the whole thing."
Nonetheless, the UA beat the home team, 7-4, and Arizona was slated to play Arizona State University. Having lost to the Sun Devils six of seven times during the season, things weren't looking especially bright--and then the rain began to fall.
The game was postponed for two days.
When play finally resumed, Arizona senior pitcher Tonja Adreon did something a UA hurler hadn't done in three years: She threw a no-hitter. The Wildcats prevailed, 1-0.
"I couldn't believe it," Adreon said after the game. "It was really nice to do it against ASU, too."
Coming off of that high, Arizona lost to Northern Iowa, 1-0, later that same day. That meant one more loss would knock the team out of the double-elimination tournament.
But the Wildcats fought back. They eliminated defending-champion Michigan State, 2-1, the next day. Then they beat Northern Iowa, 1-0, forcing a decisive final game against the Panthers.
Pitching her third game of the day, and her fifth in two days, Adreon held Northern Iowa in check through three innings. The Wildcat bats, though, had gone cold; entering the fourth inning, the game was a scoreless duel.
Arizona went down again without scoring, and in the bottom of the frame, Northern Iowa pushed across a run. In the fifth, the Panthers blew the game open, scoring six times on their way to a 7-0 victory--and the national championship.
Nonetheless, the UA players and coaches were proud of their runner-up status. "It's really something," Parrish said. "It is only the second or third time a UA women's team has finished second in the nationals in any sport."
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