OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Estelle Czech allowed just one hit in 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, JJ Smith hit a three-run homer and Texas defeated Arizona 5-2 on Sunday night to advance to the Women’s College World Series semifinals.
Czech (12-1), a sophomore, retired the first eight batters she faced in relief of ace Hailey Dolcini on her way to eliminating the Wildcats.
Texas (45-20-1) will play Big 12 rival Oklahoma State — the No. 7 overall seed — in the semifinals Monday. Because it is a double-elimination tournament to decide who plays in the best-of-three championship series and Texas already has a loss, the Longhorns would need to win twice Monday to advance. Oklahoma State, undefeated in the World Series so far, would need just one win to move on.
In the other semifinals matchup Monday, defending champion and No. 1 seed Oklahoma will face No. 5 UCLA, with UCLA needing to win twice and Oklahoma needing to win just once to advance.
Both unseeded teams were unlikely to make it this far. Arizona (39-22) lost its first eight Pac-12 games and tied for last place in the league before getting hot during regionals and super regionals.
Texas had to win a regional at No. 13 Washington and a super regional at No. 4 Arkansas to qualify. Now, the Longhorns are four victories from a national title.
With Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the semifinals, it’s the first time three Big 12 teams have reached the semifinals and the first time since the Southeastern Conference in 2015 that any conference has had three of the final four teams.
Texas’ Courtney Day hit a solo homer in the bottom of the third to open the scoring.
Carlie Scupin’s hard single down the right field line in the fourth knocked in Allie Skaggs and Amber Toven to give Arizona a 2-1 lead. Shortly after that, Czech replaced Dolcini with two runners on and struck out both batters she faced to escape.
Texas took the lead for good in its half of the fourth. Shortly after Devyn Netz replaced starter Hanah Bowen, Smith’s three-run blast gave Texas a 4-2 lead. It was just her second home run of the season.
Bowen (14-12) took the loss for Arizona.
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