OKLAHOMA CITY — It was the kind of game that you could feel sorry for whoever lost.
And when Arizona’s Dejah Mulipola hit a two-out, two-run homer to deep center field in the eighth inning, it was Washington that was the tough-luck loser.
“You can be elated or devastated in one pitch,” said UW coach Heather Tarr. “It sucks when it doesn’t go your way and it’s really fun when it does. … We were one pitch away.”
But if the Huskies are down after their 3-1 loss in Thursday’s Women’s College World Series opener, they are not out.
The Huskies (50-8), ranked No. 2 and the third seed in the tournament, now need to win four straight games to emerge from their side of the bracket, beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. against Minnesota.
The loss snapped the Huskies’ 12-game winning streak and it was only their second loss in the past 30 games.
It became clear early that the way Washington’s Taran Alvelo and Arizona’s Taylor McQuillin were pitching that this would be a low-scoring, taut game.
As the zeros kept mounting on the scoreboard, so did the pressure.
“That was like ’90s softball,” said Arizona coach Mike Candrea, whose team is the No. 6 seed. “That’s what softball would look like. You would compete, compete, compete and it’s a pitcher’s duel, and all of a sudden someone found a way to score a run.”
Arizona found a way first when Jessie Harper hit a homer that just cleared the fence in right-center with one out in the top of the sixth.
But UW responded quickly and emphatically. On the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth inning, freshman Sami Reynolds hit a homer to right field to tie the score at 1-1.
“I was hunting and I took advantage of it,” Reynolds said. “It was a new game after that.”
UW threatened to get more in the inning.
Taryn Atlee hit a one-out double and got to third with two outs, but the inning ended when pinch-hitter Noelle Hee flew out to deep right field.
Alvelo delivered some great clutch pitching in the seventh. After the first two hitters reached base, she got two strikeouts and a grounder back to her.
Alvelo got the first two outs in the eighth, then allowed a single before the decisive blast.
“I threw a lot of good pitches in a lot of good spots, but sometimes things don’t go your way,” Alvelo said.
Tarr had two great options when it came to picking a starting pitcher.
But she had to make a choice: Alvelo, a senior and a third-team All-American, or sophomore Gabbie Plain, a first-team All-American.
Tarr chose Alvelo (25-5), who had two wins and a save in the Huskies’ three-game sweep of Arizona (48-12) earlier this month in Tucson, and pitched admirably Thursday.
She allowed six hits and one walk and struck out 11.
McQuillin (24-7) gave up one run on six hits and two walks. She struck out seven and became a winner when Mulipola came through.
“On that at-bat, I was just trying to breathe, and be in the moment and see a pitch,” Mulipola said. “When I hit it, I didn’t think it was out, and that is why I was so excited rounding first base when it did go over.”