Yet another unlikely Arizona Wildcats player singled when it mattered most.
Now Stacie Chambers needed to score.
Having put in a pinch runner for the catcher earlier in the game, UA coach Mike Candrea had to leave his slowest player on second base with two outs Thursday and the game tied in the 10th inning.
Ashlee Brawley blooped a single to shallow left field. Chambers was sent home.
"Gonna take a chance," Candrea said.
The throw from Cal left fielder Jamia Reid was 10 feet over the catcher's head, Chambers scored, and the Wildcats walked off 2-1 winners to start their most important softball weekend of the year.
Chambers, still a bit winded five minutes later, smiled when asked what she saw running home.
"The catcher jumping up in the air," she said. "Oh, thank God."
A good throw, though, and the two teams could have played until morning. Chambers had just rounded third when the ball was fielded about 120 feet from home.
"I was just hoping she'd get there," Brawley said, "and the throw wouldn't beat her."
Candrea knew Chambers was not going to outrun a decent toss.
"A good throw gets her by a mile," Candrea said. "But you think of the pressure it puts on that kid there."
What were the odds of a hit by Brawley, a freshman walk-on, or of Chambers scoring?
Probably better than the play that put the UA into extra innings.
The Wildcats were down to their final out, behind 1-0 in the seventh inning, when Baillie Kirker roped a first-pitch single into right field. Lini Koria scored from second when a throw from Elia Reid - Jamia's identical twin - went a bit up the third base line.
It marked the first time all game a UA runner had reached third base, let alone home.
Kirker, a first baseman, had produced only two hits in her previous 30 at-bats.
Candrea told her to look for a hard pitch low and away, and she trampolined the ball off her bat as hard as anyone all night.
"I'm just glad there was a runner on, and it produced a run," Kirker said. "(The win) was very big.
"Right now, we're seeded in a tough spot. We need to sweep."
Not necessarily, though Candrea said, "We need to win another one before I feel really good about it."
The Wildcats (40-14, 11-8) have put such stock in the series because of playoff seeding implications. The Golden Bears (37-10, 13-6) had won eight straight before Thursday.
Cal's RPI - which the NCAA tournament selection committee will use Sunday to seed the event - was No. 7 entering the game. The Wildcats were at No. 8.
Theoretically, the top 16 teams host the regional round of the NCAA tournament, and the top eight teams host the first two rounds.
"It was really important," Brawley said.
Cal starter Jolene Henderson allowed two hits through the first six innings. She was staked to a 1-0 lead in the third, when Jamia Reid tagged up from third base on Lindsey Ziegenhirt's shallow line drive to left fielder Brittany Lastrapes.
Reid slid around Chambers, who couldn't catch the bounce. The UA appealed to third base, thinking she had left early, to no avail.
Ace Kenzie Fowler strengthened as the game wore on. After escaping a bases-loaded, one-out spot in the sixth, she faced three batters over the minimum in the final four innings.
The Canyon del Oro High School grad struck out 10, allowing seven hits and five walks while tossing 159 pitches.
The Wildcats, who played in front of 2,548 fans, host the Golden Bears tonight at 7.
They might still be smiling.
"It's a good feeling," Candrea said. "We've been here many a time, but it's been a long time."
• What: California at Arizona, three-games series
• Thursday: Arizona 2, Cal 1, 10 inn.
• Today: 7 p.m.
• Saturday: noon