Arizona beats UCLA to capture NCAA softball national championship


Tuesday, May 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


(OKLAHOMA CITY) - Coach Sue Enquist believes her UCLA softball team got enough hits to beat Arizona, but they didn't fall in the right places at the right times.

``We had a handful of opportunities to score some runs and our goal coming into today was to compete, pitch-by-pitch, and we did that,'' Enquist said after her Bruins lost to the Wildcats 1-0 in the NCAA softball championship game on Monday. ``We just didn't have the timely hitting.''

Lindsay Collins' solo homer in the top of the fourth inning was all the Wildcats needed offensively to win. Arizona pitcher Jennie Finch (32-0) did the rest, striking out seven and walking two to finish her perfect season. Finch's performance broke the NCAA record for wins in a season without a defeat and she was named the series' most outstanding player.

``This was a perfect ending to a perfect season,'' Finch said. ``I just wanted to hit my spots and use our defense. And stay relaxed.''

The top-seeded Wildcats (65-4) won their sixth national championship, second only to the eight by second-seeded UCLA (62-6).

The Bruins threatened in the bottom of the sixth when Natasha Watley led off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Finch. But Stephanie Ramos popped out to left and Tairia Mims fouled out to third. After an intentional walk to Stacey Nuveman, Claire Sua flied out to left to end the inning.

``Like coach said, we didn't do the little things,'' UCLA second baseman Monique Mejia said.``I think we were just a swing away from winning the championship ourselves.''

UCLA's loss on Monday was its fourth this season to the Wildcats.

``I really can't describe how I'm feeling,'' Arizona third baseman Toni Mascarenas said. ``I think it's hit us but I don't think it's really hit anybody yet. Probably not until tomorrow when we wake up.''

Pitcher Amanda Freed (21-4) went the distance for UCLA, giving up three hits and walking four. Collins ended Freed's 38-inning scoreless streak with her one-out home run over the center-field fence.

``It was going to be anybody's ballgame today,'' Freed said. ``Knowing that, there is nobody else, no other players, no other team that I'd rather go down with than our team.''