ASU and California Advance to Semi-Finals of WCWS
OKLAHOMA CITY – College softball’s version of the Final Four was finalized Saturday evening at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium as defending champion Arizona State and No. 1 ranked California eliminated teams to advance to Sunday’s semi-finals starting at noon.
In Sunday’s semi-finals Oklahoma (50-8, 2-0 in the tourney) will face ASU (53-10, 2-1 in the tourney) at noon with the Sun Devils needing to beat the Sooners twice to advance to the best-of-three series starting Monday evening. The other semi-final, scheduled to start at 2:30, will match Alabama (57-7, 2-0) against the No. 1 ranked California Golden Bears (58-6, 2-1) and the Golden Bears also needing to win twice to advance to the championship series. This marks the first year that each of the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals (the national seeding system began in 2005).
In the two elimination games Saturday evening, ASU ended LSU’s season with a 6-0 shutout hurled by senior Hillary Bach (22-1). She was a model of efficiency, throwing only 83 pitches in the complete game while allowing only four hits. She walked only one and fanned two as LSU ended the season 40-25 and 1-2 in the WCWS. Bach is now 12-3 career postseason including 3-0 this year, and a combined 32-1 the last two years. Her only loss was to Cal on May 11, and her last loss before the Cal game was to Florida on May 29, 2010 in the Super Regional.
Although the Tigers lost, first-year head coach Beth Torina praised her team. “I couldn’t be much prouder of my team at this time and what they’ve accomplished, especially in the last three weeks being on the road and winning at A&M and Missouri. We set out this year to make people in the country think that we played hard in every game we went out, we wanted to try and play hard, and I think we accomplished that with flying colors.”
Junior Rachele Fico (20-13) took the loss for LSU and allowed seven hits and six runs in 4.2 innings. She walked two and also struck out two before Brittany Mack hurled the remaining 2 1/3 innings. One of the seven hits Fico allowed was a three-run homer in the third inning by ASU right fielder Alix Johnson, which went into the bleachers in right center field with Elizabeth Caporuscio and Katelyn Boyd aboard. Caporuscio singled to open the inning and after an out, Boyd got aboard on a bunt single, setting the stage for Johnson.
The ball she hit was a mistake. “Yes, she took advantage of my mistake,” said Fico. “I left it up too high and up in the zone, and she really squared up on it.” It was Johnson’s 13 homer of the season.
ASU, which improved to 18-14 all-time in the WCWS in its 10th appearance, added three more runs in the fifth inning with two of the runs coming on errors and Sam Parlich’s RBI single. Parlich and Johnson each had two hits in four at-bats to lead ASU, which collected nine hits in its most impressive offensive display so far in the WCWS, and ASU Head Coach Clint Myers was pleased. “I thought we played a little better than we did yesterday. We’re still trying to get better. We have some important softball to play tomorrow. So we’re still figuring things out. But we’ll show up tomorrow and put on a good game, hopefully.”
In the nightcap, the Golden Bears jumped on Oregon starter and loser Jessica Moore (33-15) in the first inning, scoring three runs courtesy of Jace Williams’ three-run round tripper to right center. It was her eighth homer of the season. California expanded the lead to 5-0 on Britt Vonk’s two-run RBI double in the second inning and scored its sixth and final run on Victoria Jones’ lead-off homer in the fourth inning. It was only her third homer of the season.
California coach Diane Ninemire was pleased with her team’s performance. “I just want to say I thought tonight was a really great game. Jolene did a great job tonight. Six out of seven of the off-hitters she was able to retire. We had great timely hits tonight. Britt did a great job tonight, bunting, slapping, getting on. Jace Williams came through with a great three-run home run. And then Danielle Henderson had the hit down the line and that enable Britt to get a single to the right side for two more RBIs. And then the homerun by Victoria Jones.”
Cal junior pitcher Jolene Henderson improved to 38-3 on the year with the complete-game victory. She surrendered three runs (all earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out nine.
Oregon, which concluded the season 45-18, scored its first run on a solo homer by Samantha Pappas (11th of the season) leading off the third inning and scored twice in the sixth on Lindsey Goodrum’s two-run RBI double. The 45 wins represent the second most in school history. Pappas’ homer was her second of the day after hitting a solo against Tennessee in Game 8 and she finished the season with 11 homers, which tied her single-season best. She also hit 11 in 2010.