LAFAYETTE — For Christina Hamilton, it was not so much eradicating the past as it was living in the moment.
And what a moment it was.
Hamilton held perhaps the nation’s best offense to five hits Saturday at Lamson Park as she pitched Louisiana-Lafayette into the Women’s College World Series with a 7-1 NCAA super regional victory over Arizona.
The win was Hamilton’s second against the Wildcats in less than 24 hours.
In the Cajuns’ 5-3 victory Friday night, Hamilton scattered seven hits over as many innings.
Arizona (44-15) entered the super regional leading the nation in most offensive categories, including home runs, runs and slugging percentage.
What a difference for Hamilton (29-2), who in her previous three seasons at UL-Lafayette was somewhat overlooked and summoned to the circle for only an inning and a half during the Cajuns’ previous 21 regional or super regional games.
Arizona batted a collective .230 during the 14 super regional innings against Hamilton, who throughout the series wore her trademark black-rimmed glasses without functioning lenses. The school passed out facsimiles of the glasses as the 2,693 in attendance walked through the turnstiles.
“We prepared for (Arizona’s) weak spots and trusted what our coaches called and trusted our defense to get the job done when I put it in their hands,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said what she may have experienced in the program in previous seasons and after a 2012 knee surgery and rehabilitation are issues that shouldn’t be part of the discussion now.
“We’re just looking forward and living in this moment,” she said. “We don’t want to go back and look at what happened in the past. We want to grow from it, but we don’t want to harp on it. It feels great to be going to the World Series and amazing, but I don’t want to think about the past.”
Coach Michael Lotief said the plan for Hamilton was keeping the Wildcats perplexed, primarily with offspeed pitches.
“The best approach to keep good hitters off-balance is to keep mixing it up, and as you get into the game, you start feeling the rhythm that the pitcher was in,” he said. “(Hamilton) was able to command a lot of pitches, and she was able to work ahead, change speeds, work vertically, work horizontally. …You knew the fact that they had seen (Hamilton) the day before, that she was going to have to throw something new at them, and that was a good wrinkle.”
Hamilton’s performance also impressed Arizona coach Mike Candrea.
“I thought Hamilton showed a lot of grit on the mound (Saturday) and did a pretty good job against what I feel is a pretty good hitting ballclub. …We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” he said.
Arizona right fielder Katiyana Mauga said Hamilton wasn’t so much overpowering as she was crafty.
“(Hamilton) used her offspeed today and we didn’t hit the top half of the ball, so we were hitting right at their players,” Mauga said.
Candrea said Hamilton wasn’t afraid to challenge his hitters with the rise ball as well as the offspeed pitch.
“I think Hamilton stepping up was a big factor for them this year, but they also swing the bats,” he said. “I think Hamilton is going to be the key in how far they go.”