Amanda Locke and Kelsi Dunne celebrate the Tide's 1-0 victory over Stanford. (photo by Amelia J. Brackin)
"That was one of the best ball games we have had in the stadium, one of the best crowds, one of the best atmospheres. It was awesome." - UA head coach Patrick Murphy
The Tide downed Stanford 1-0 in the tense, decisive third game of the super regional after dropping game one and run ruling the Cardinal in game two 10-0. The Tide now sit at (51-9) and are headed to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series.
"I can’t explain to you guys the feeling that we had after (Thursday's) game," said Junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia. "Obviously it was disappointing, but there was not a doubt in anyone’s mind in the locker room. I think that if we could have, we would have played right after (Thursday’s) game. We were so fired up. Yea, it wasn’t our best game; actually it was probably one of our worst. When we came out today there wasn’t a doubt or hesitance. Whitney (Larsen) talked to us before the game and said, ‘We are going to be fearless today.’ I think that we were all fearless. It was a lot of fun."
And it was Reilly-Boccia that ultimately sealed the victory, sending a triple down the right field line to bring Jackie Traina home from first.
"Right before that bat, I was in the on deck circle and Ryan Iamurri came up to me and said, ‘Don’t think about it being two outs or it being the last out in the Super Regionals. This will be your moment,’" Reilly-Boccia said. "She really kept me focused and in the moment. It was tough not to think about a lot of different things at the same time. Jackie and I don’t even know where the ball went. All I remember thinking was, ‘Please let (Traina) get all the way from first base."
Traina, who picked up the win in relief of Kelsi Dunne, came back in the top of the seventh and picked up her fifth strike out and forced two ground outs to finish off the game.
"I was thinking to myself, ‘You have got to pitch the game of your life here. Coach Murphy told me to spin it and not to throw the ball hard. I just went out there and had a really positive feeling. I knew I had all of my support sisters behind me. Kelsi said, ‘You got this. This is your game,’ then we did our handshake, and I got out there. It was such a great feeling."
The Tide, which has advanced to 13 NCAA tournaments in its 15 years, has now won five Super Regional titles and returns to WCWS for the first time since earning back-to-back berths in 2008 and 2009.
"There are only eight schools (that advance to the WCWS), and you never know when you are going to do it again," Murphy said. "This is the toughest part, getting there. For those two (seniors Kelsi Dunne and Whitney Larsen) to get to go again is awesome. Everything that has gone into these last four weeks comes out. We really wanted to do it. We didn’t want to let people down, and we wanted to put a smile on their face. A lot of people were expecting this. It is difficult."