The Arizona and Arizona State softball teams both lost their opening games in the Super Regionals. The Sun Devils were able to overcome the misstep. The Wildcats weren’t.
ASU did what it had to do Friday, winning both games of a double-header to earn the right to move on to Oklahoma for the start of the Women’s College World Series where they will defend their national title.
Arizona will be staying home, missing a trip to the WCWS for just the third time in the last 25 years.
The Sun Devils, who were hosting the best-of-three Super Regional, lost the opener Thursday to Louisiana-LaFeyette, 6-0, and then came back Friday with a vengeance to post a 9-2 win in the first game and then a six-inning shutout to wrap up an 8-0 victory and a trip to Oklahoma City for the start of the WCWS.
After the rest of the Super Regionals conclude later today, the Sun Devils will find out who their next opponent will be, and what time they play.
The No. 11 Wildcats, who have struggled with their pitching late in the season, were able to roll through the regional games by beating unranked North Dakota State and Notre Dame. But Oklahoma, the No. 4 seed in the Super Regional, was a different story.
It wasn’t just the pitching that failed the Cats over the weekend. They couldn’t get their hitting on track, either, as the Sooners outscored them 13-1 in the two-game sweep in Norman, Okla.
The Cats didn’t have a single extra-base hit as they were blanked, 6-0, in the opener, and then couldn’t put the bat on the ball in Saturday’s elimination game as the OU starter, Keilani Ricketts, struck out 13 Arizona batters.
Shelby Babcock was on the mound for the first loss, allowing six runs on eight hits; four of the hits were for extra bases and two were solo home runs. Kenzie Fowler took the second loss when she let the Sooners score five runs in the first inning, eventually allowing seven runs on nine hits.
Arizona walks away with a 38-19 season record, posting the most losses since 1983 and falling short of the 40-win mark for the first time since 1986.
No. 3-ranked Arizona State, on the other hand, was firing on all cylinders and was able to recover after getting punched in the nose in the first game Thursday. It was a wake-up call that was heeded.
The Sun Devils jumped to a quick lead on the back of a two-run homer by Amber Freeman in the first inning of Friday’s opener, and then pushed the lead to 7-0 in the third when Annie Lockwood parked her 10th home run of the season over the left-field fence to score two more.
Sam Parlich added her own solo shot in that inning for a little extra cushion, and then hit another round-trip in the seventh to cap off the 9-2 win.
In the second, and final, game of the series, the Devils again jumped on the board first by scoring two runs in the first – a reassuring sign since this year’s squad is 27-0 when scoring in the first inning.
Again, it was power at the plate that fueled the final victory to propel ASU into the national title hunt again. Alix Johnson and Haley Steele got the attack going with back-to-back homers in the first, followed by Elizabeth Caporuscio‘s 16th of the season in the second, and another by Johnson that scored three runs in the fifth.
Hillary Bach pushed her amazing season record to 21-1 with the win in the second game of the series, as she moves closer to wrapping up one of the most successful senior seasons in school history. Dallas Escobedo, the sophomore phenom from St. Mary’s High School, struck out seven in the series finale to push her season record to 23-6.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)