June 5, 2010

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Danielle Lawrie's college career came to a tearful end with a defensive meltdown by her defending champion Washington Huskies.

K'Lee Arredondo drove in two runs and Karissa Buchanan scored twice as Arizona scored three unearned runs against Lawrie and sent the Huskies home with a 4-3 defeat Saturday at the Women's College World Series.

"I can't sit and say, 'I'm so mad we didn't win, I'm so mad we didn't win,' because we didn't. We didn't prove that we deserved to win," said Lawrie, only the second woman to be selected national player of the year twice. "When you come to the World Series, it's anybody's game. That's honestly how it is.

"You've got to battle your butt off. Not that we didn't do that, but it just wasn't our time."

Lawrie had won her previous five starts against her Pac-10 rival with a 1.00 ERA, but she wasn't able to keep the 10th-seeded Wildcats from capitalizing on three defensive miscues by the usually sound Huskies.

Washington (50-9) hadn't allowed more than one earned run in a game all season and came in with the best fielding percentage of the eight World Series teams and the eighth-best mark in the nation.

"I wanted to win obviously but right now I'm at peace and I'm happy," Lawrie said through tears. "I'm disappointed we lost but at the end of the day, a good five years."

Amanda Fleischman misplayed two grounders that resulted in Arizona runs, and the Wildcats added a key insurance run after Morgan Stuart bobbled Brittany Lastrapes' two-out grounder in the seventh inning. Stuart dove in a bid to catch Lauren Schutzler's infield single to move pinch runner Becca Tikey to second, and Lawrie then allowed a clean single to Arredondo to make it 4-2.

Jenn Salling cut the deficit to one with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh after Morgan Smith's triple. That marked the second time the Huskies scored as a result of an out being overturned because of an illegal pitch.

Fleischman was also thrown out at the plate by Lastrapes, the left-fielder, in the third and Washington's bid for a rally in the fifth was cut short when Salling was called out for stopping momentarily off third base when pitcher Kenzie Fowler had the ball in the circle.

"The bottom line: You can't blame people," Lawrie said. "It's obviously upsetting that that's what it came down to, but you're controlling your own destiny. It's not something that you can just let affect you for years to come."

Last season, the Huskies spent three weeks away from home on their way to a whirlwind first NCAA softball title. This time, they came in as the favorite after the NCAA tournament's top two seeds - Alabama and Michigan - were upset in the super regionals.

Washington joined Missouri, which lost 5-0 to Florida, as the first two teams sent home from the World Series. Arizona moved on to face Hawaii later Saturday, following another elimination game between Florida and Georgia.

"Unlike last year, this year we just didn't peak at the right time, and we're sitting here two and out," Washington coach Heather Tarr said.

Arizona, one of the nation's top five teams in home runs, managed only six singles but they came at key times.

Schutzler followed singles by Buchanan and Lastrapes with one of her own to put Arizona on the board first, and Fleischman couldn't handle Arredondo's grounder to make it 2-0. Arredondo then had RBI singles to follow Fleischman's second miscue in the fifth and Stuart's bobble, too.

"We knew it was going to be a tough one. I told the kids that we have to make the ground our friend. You're not going to sit in there and swing away and expect to do much against (Lawrie)," Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. "You've got to make things happen."