TUCSON, Ariz. -- Kristin Arriola drove in six runs to help Arizona beat North Dakota State 11-0 in five innings in the Wildcats' first game of the NCAA tournament Thursday night.
UA made the most of just five hits in the five-inning game, two of them by Arriola, the Wildcats' senior second baseman.
Arizona (36-17) took a two-run lead in the bottom of the first without the benefit of a hit. Leadoff hitter Karissa Buchanan was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a catcher's throwing error on the play. Brigette Del Ponte also was hit by a pitch and stole second, and Lini Koria's sacrifice bunt plated Buchanan. Shelby Pendley then walked before UA executed a double steal for another run. Both runs were unearned.
The Bison threatened in the top of the second with singles by Brea Konz and Alex Sobrero and a grounder to move both into scoring position. UA starter Shelby Babcock (20-9) responded by striking out Jenina Ortega, putting an end to the rally.
North Dakota State (37-21) again loaded the bases in the third with one out on singles by Jamie Gay, Katie Tamayo and Cristina Borek. But Babcock struck out Amanda Grable and got an infield grounder to short to thwart another threat.
The Wildcats blew it open on Arriola's grand slam in the bottom of the third. Del Ponte led off with a triple off reliever Whitney Johnson, then scored on a fly ball by Perelini Koria, who had reached on an error. Jessica Spigner and Chelsea Goodacre then walked to set the table for Arriola, who followed with her ninth home run and third grand slam of the year to make it 7-0.
UA added four more runs in their half of the fourth, again with minimal hitting. Del Ponte and Koria walked, Spigner was hit by a pitch and Goodacre hit a grounder that was mishandled to allow Del Ponte to score. Arriola then drove in two more with a double to left-center field before pinch-hitter Nicole Bryan walked and Buchanan singled in another run to complete the scoring.
Arriola's six RBIs matched a career high that was set against UTEP in March 2009. The margin of victory was UA's sixth largest in 149 NCAA tournament victories.
North Dakota State's Krista Menke (24-12) took the loss in two innings, although she allowed just one hit. Babcock gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out six.
Arizona advances to meet Notre Dame (39-14) in the winner's bracket game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. North Dakota State will face Hawaii afterward in the first elimination game.