Arizona Softball

Arizona suffers first run-rule defeat in a Super Regional since 2015 in loss to Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State celebrates its 8-0 victory in five innings over Arizona in the opening game of the Stillwater (Okla.) Super Regional on Friday (Oklahoma State photo)

Arizona faces the daunting task of potentially having to beat national player of the year candidate Lexi Kilfoyl twice in two days to move on to the Women’s College World Series.

Getting that first win will be challenging enough after Arizona’s 8-0 loss in five innings Friday to Kilfoyl and a potent Oklahoma State lineup that tallied three home runs and two doubles by five different players in the opening game of the Stillwater (Okla.) Super Regional.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Saturday at 4 p.m., Tucson time, and it will be on ESPN2.

No. 5 Oklahoma State (48-10) achieved its first run-rule victory in a Super Regional.

Arizona (37-17-1) suffered its first run-rule loss in a Super Regional since 2015 at LSU when the Wildcats lost 8-0 in five innings. That was the only other time Arizona suffered such a fate in this round.

Kilfoyl kept Arizona’s potent hitters off-balance effectively mixing pitching speeds and placement.

The Wildcats tallied only three hits off of her, two of them infield singles.

“They pitched well, played good defense and got the timely hits when they needed them,” Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe said of Oklahoma State. “I thought we kind of let their hitters settle into some counts that we didn’t want to do. We need to execute better.”

Kilfoyl, who contemplated transferring to Arizona in 2022 after leaving Alabama, improved to 25-3 with a 1.02 ERA with the shutout. She struck out three and walked one (the first walk she has allowed in the postseason and last five games overall).

Arizona’s pitching struggled to the point that starter Miranda Stoddard was forced to re-enter the game in the bottom of the fourth after Oklahoma State rallied for five runs against Aissa Silva and Allie Blanchard.

“They let the game come to them,” Lowe said of the Cowgirls. “They take their walks, when the game calls for that and they’re executing in hitters’ counts. We’re the same way when we’re in hitters’ counts and kind of settle in the box.

“It’s a big credit to them. They’re a good team and they executed their gameplan tonight.”

Oklahoma State rallied for two runs in the first inning against Stoddard, who exited in the second inning after the leadoff batter hit a single.

Silva appeared to be in control other than allowing a solo home run to Karli Godwin in the third inning that gave Oklahoma State a 3-0 lead.

Silva was replaced by Blanchard after Claire Timm and Micaela Wark hit back-to-back home runs to start the fourth inning.

“The offense, they were relentless,” Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said. “It was the Cowgirl way, and it was really cool — a lot of walks, a lot of baserunners, a lot of pressure.”

Oklahoma State rallied for two more runs on a sacrifice fly and when Blanchard hit a batter with a pitch with the bases loaded, prompting Stoddard’s return.

Lowe called her team “fighters” who generally rise when facing adversity and expects the same out of her team Saturday.

“We’ve been in a lot of these spots, and we’ve responded,” she added. “I think that’s the coolest thing about this team is we respond to everything, every little piece of adversity that’s been thrown at us.”

Allie Skaggs, the only player to record a hit beyond the infield off Kilfoyl, said Arizona will play with a sense of urgency in the do-or-die game Saturday.

“We’re down to potentially our last game of the season,” she said. “There’s a little bit of an urgency of, ‘Hey, we need to be playing our best softball (Saturday).’ So that’s the goal.

“If we don’t show up and play our best softball, obviously something like today (the 8-0 loss) is going to happen. What I appreciate and love about this team is like what Cait said is that our team, we respond when we get punched.”

Silva added that Arizona’s pitchers will learn from the loss and be more competitive Saturday.

“We definitely have a lot of things to work on and we know the things to work on,” Silva said. “As a bullpen, we saw their batters and we saw what they have. So I think as a bullpen, we’re gonna go in there and do what we need to do to get better and go out and attack.

“I think our team is one of the greatest teams at attacking, so we’re gonna go out there and be beasts.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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