West Ranch grad Jessie Harper swings at the ball during Arizona's win over Texas at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Two Foothill League softball alumnae remain in NCAA Tournament

What began as a 64-team bracket in the NCAA Division 1 softball tournament has dwindled to just eight teams in the 2019 Women’s College World Series. Two Foothill League softball alumnae remain in the bracket, too.

Jessie Harper, a West Ranch product, has advanced with the University of Arizona and Mariah Lopez, a former Saugus player, has moved on with the University of Oklahoma.

Harper and the Wildcats beat Harvard and Auburn in the NCAA Regionals before taking the series against Ole Miss in two games in the NCAA Super Regionals.

In the second game against Ole Miss, Harper launched three home runs in the 12-3 win.

To start out the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Arizona beat Washington 3-1 on Thursday.

Harper hit her NCAA-leading 30th home run of the season in the sixth inning to put her team up 1-0. Washington evened the score in the bottom of the inning, but Wildcats catcher Dejah Mulipola hit a home run in the eighth inning to win the game.

“This game brought me back to the 90s,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea told Arizona Desert Swarm. “That’s what softball used to look like. You would compete, compete, compete, it was a pitcher’s duel and all of a sudden someone found a way to score a run. And I thought it was quite ironic today that Harper’s home run went out, that they came back to tie it up. Both pitchers were phenomenal. It was just a really good, fastpitch softball game.”

On Friday, Arizona lost to UCLA 6-2. Harper went 0-for-4 at the plate in the contest, but she’ll be competing again today against the winner of the game between Alabama and Florida.

It’s the Wildcats’ 23rd trip to the College Women’s World Series, but its first since 2010. They’ll continue play today at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Oklahoma beat UMBC and Wisconsin in the NCAA Regionals before moving on to the NCAA Super Regionals, where it swept Northwestern.

In the second game against Northwestern, Lopez pitched 4 2/3 innings, recording five strikeouts, giving up two hits and no runs. She walked two batters in the 8-0 win.

In the first game of the Women’s College World Series, the Sooners beat Alabama 3-2 to move on and play Oklahoma State University on Friday.

As of The Signal’s press deadline, a power outage at Hall of Fame Stadium in the fifth inning caused a delay, but OU was leading 3-1.

With a win, Oklahoma’s next game will be on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN.

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