Devyn Netz could have been miffed, having to leave the game after five innings despite retiring eight straight batters and 11 of the last 12.
Hanah Bowen could have been shocked, relieving Netz with the game against Oregon State tied at 1 in the sixth inning coming in cold after Netz was hot on a roll.
Everything worked out harmoniously for Netz, Bowen, Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe and pitching coach Taryne Mowatt-McKinney in the 3-1 win Friday over Oregon State to stay alive in the Women’s College World Series at Oklahoma City.
Bowen retired the side in the sixth inning before Carlie Scupin (RBI double) and Blaise Biringer (run-scoring single) ignited a two-run rally in the bottom of that inning. Bowen then shut the door on the Beavers in the seventh after allowing two walks.
“We’re feeding off each other,” Bowen explained of her relationship with Netz. “She brings great energy. I bring great energy. I think just building one another and just keep competing.”
Netz finished her strong five innings allowing only three hits with four strikeouts and one walk to go with her one earned run.
In four postseason appearances, Netz is 2-0 and has allowed only two earned runs in 15 innings for a 0.93 ERA. She has 10 strikeouts and six walks.
Bowen is 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 29 innings covering five postseason appearances. She has allowed 26 hits with 20 strikeouts and 15 walks.
“A lot of work has gone into our relationship, both in the bullpen and off the field,” Netz said. “It’s something that we’ve had to work on because we faced a lot of adversity during conference play and when we came here (to the WCWS), we knew we had a clean slate. Knowing that, it’s pretty fun.”
She looked at Bowen on the interview podium and said with a smile, “It’s fun to play with you Bo.”
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) June 4, 2022
CAITLIN LOWE WINS FIRST GAME IN WCWS
The victory over Oregon State advances the Wildcats (39-21) in the elimination bracket (playing on Sunday at 4 p.m. the loser of Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma game) — but it was also a historical achievement for first-year coach Caitlin Lowe.
She earned her first WCWS victory.
“It feels awesome,” Lowe said when asked about the achievement. “I told them after the game that they were meant for this stage and I truly believe they were going to chip away and make it happen. Nothing really got too big.
“I’ve seen this team grow up in the postseason and go from wanting to be here to knowing they belong here and knowing that they’re gonna win here –I mean, in three weeks, that’s huge.”
Trivia: Who did Mike Candrea beat for his first WCWS victory? Answer: His first WCWS win was a 1-0 victory over Adelphi — yes, Adelphi — on May 26, 1988. Adelphi, located in Garden City, N.Y., is now a Division II program. Theresa Cherry pitched a one-hitter to improve to 31-10 that season. Suzanne Lady had the game-winning RBI single in the fourth.
Netz said playing for Lowe is “super fun.”
“She’s like laid back, knowing she trusts all of us to do our job,” Netz said. “I think that’s what she brings to the game, and to our team — that quiet confidence, that calm confidence that we can do it. Just knowing she trusts in us is pretty awesome, as well.”
ARIZONA IS LIKE “SWISS CHEESE”
Lowe said it might sound “corny” but she compared the makeup of her team to swiss cheese — from an 0-8 start to the Pac-12 season to a 6-1 run in the postseason.
“As slices of Swiss cheese, we’ve got our holes and our flaws — not everyone is perfect, but as the block of Swiss cheese, we are perfect,” Lowe said. “We are this perfect chunk pieced together.
“They realized that they could do it together and have those weaknesses, have those flaws.”
She then used Bowen relieving Netz to start the sixth inning as an example of overcoming difficult circumstances through teamwork.
“We needed something up in the zone. Devyn doesn’t throw that; that’s not her specialty. Bo comes in and does it for her. That makes my heart happy that they’re leaning on each other, not just in the circle, but all around, offense, defense and in the circle.”
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) June 4, 2022
LOWE, BERG EMBRACE AFTER GAME
Former Team USA Olympic outfield teammates Lowe and Laura Berg, Oregon State’s coach, approached each other after the game with Berg covering her hands with her jacket while wearing a facemask. She tried to fistbump Lowe at first but Lowe wanted a hug from her good friend.
“She’s actually a little under the weather so she didn’t want to hug me at first,” Lowe said. “But then I was like, ‘Come on, Bergy.’ so I went in for it. We just have such a special relationship. It’s started a really long time ago when I was little and she’s been my idol as an outfielder, as a softball player, as a human being and I was lucky enough that she played for so long and that I got to play with her.
“She is one of my favorite teammates that I’ve ever had. I know she’s a great coach. I know her players look up to her and and she does things the right way.”
Berg said of Lowe: “Caitlin Lowe, I think the world of that lady. She’s just an incredible teammate, an incredible friend. We just had so much fun in 2008. I think she’s an incredible coach. I think she’s going to do some amazing things for that program. Being on the field with her in an environment like this, I can’t tell you how special and how much that means to me.”
WANTING THOSE BATS TO BE ON FIRE
ESPN cameras caught Arizona’s Hannah Martinez wearing a plastic fireman’s hat as a form of a rally cap when the Wildcats tried to break through with some runs early in the game against Oregon State.
“We got Firehouse subs before the game, so they gave us firemen hats with the Firehouse subs,” Lowe said. “Our bats were going to be on fire today, so we just rolled with it.”