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Arizona leads Villanova behind two HRs from Kennedy and advances to 17th place in the Super Regional

ARIZONA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Overall: 187-67
Regionals: 104-12
Appearances: 36
Championships: 33
Super Regionals: 20-17
Appearances: 17
Championships: 9th
WCWS: 63-38
Appearances: 25
Championships: 8th

Arizona traveled to SEC territory again for a regional and emerged as champions again, this time with a 9-4 victory Sunday over Villanova that capped a 3-0 run through the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional.

Dakota Kennedy hit two home runs, ranking 13th for the season. Allie Skaggs secured her team-high 14th home run and freshman run Emily Schepp contributed her sixth home run in the win over Villanova.

The Wildcats (37-16-1) advance to their 17th Super Regional round – a game against No. 5 Oklahoma State (46-10). The best-of-three tournament date in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against the Cowgirls is Thursday through Sunday.

Arizona is advancing to the Super Regionals for the third straight year after having to travel to an SEC location – Knoxville (Tenn.) vs. Tennessee in 2016, Columbia (Mo.) vs. Missouri in 2022 and Fayetteville this year vs. Arkansas .

The Wildcats have won 13 straight regional round games against SEC opponents since 2014, when Arizona beat LSU 13-5 in five innings to capture the Tucson Regional title in Hillenbrand.

“I feel like for us it's mostly because of the pride we have in the Pac-12,” Skaggs said of Arizona's first postseason win against the SEC in the last decade. “We enjoy coming there and represent our conference very well. Whenever we play an SEC opponent, it's nice to go out there and just show them what we can do in the Pac. It feels good to win the conference.

“We’re pulling for all the Pac-12 schools right now in the postseason. It's just a small stone on our shoulder to prove that our conference is one of the best, if not the best, in the country. So it’s fun to continue that legacy.”

Villanova, making its first regional final appearance, finished its season 33-24.

Arizona is rebounding from last year's NCAA Tournament exit to snap a 35-year streak in the postseason.

When asked by ESPN broadcasters about the team's mindset heading back to the NCAA Tournament, Kennedy, a second-year left fielder, said: “It was really just about coming in and playing our game, and I think we have that.” we did all weekend.”

“All the games were ready to go,” Kennedy continued. “We are very happy that we can continue.”

Arizona scored at least one run in the first three innings Miranda Stoddard pitched effectively in circles.

Skaggs' sacrifice fly came in the first inning Regan Shockeywho hit a single with one out and advanced to third Carlie Scupins singles.

Arizona's lead increased to 4-0 in the second inning after the rally Brooke Biringer An error allowed him to lead off the inning, and Schepp followed with an infield single.

Kaiah Altmeyer He then landed on the ground, allowing Biringer to score.

Kennedy followed with a two-run home run, her 12th of the season.

In her first NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend, Kennedy hit three home runs and five RBIs.

“To be honest, I think it's just me as a person – trying to stay calm, cool and collected,” Kennedy said. “I was glad I was able to do it this weekend.”

Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe believes Kennedy has emerged as one of Arizona's leaders despite her young age compared to her older teammates.

“She puts in the effort every day to really get something out of this game and she keeps investing in this game,” Lowe said. “I’m also proud of her and the way she led this weekend. I think she’s stepping into a new role that she hasn’t had before.”

Another three-run rally in the third inning gave Arizona a 7-0 lead.

The highlight of the rally was Skaggs' leadoff home run and a two-run triple-by Taylor Biehl.

Stoddard was relieved Brooke Mannon early in the fourth inning after the first two batters reached on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Chloe Smith And Elizabeth Grey Hit RBI singles and Tess quotes hit a two-run double, cutting Arizona's lead to 7-4 and forcing Mannon's exit. Aissa Silva came in and got the last batter to jump to left field.

Silva allowed two hits and no walks in the final 3 1/3 innings of the game. She crossed out two.

“I was very proud of our pitching performance this weekend (and the way they worked together”), Lowe said. “The way we put Aissa in a position to start and finish the game and still be ready… she just really wanted the ball.”

Schepp and Kennedy hit home runs in the fifth inning, increasing Arizona's lead to 9-4.

“I think if we just play our game and stick to our plan, we're capable of anything,” Kennedy said. “We’re excited to advance to the Super Regionals and do our thing out there in Oklahoma.”

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Anna Harden

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