Softball Moves Into Region III Championship Game With Dramatic Come From Behind Win Over LSU
May 18, 2002
LAFAYETTE, La. - Erin Wardein's one out sacrifice fly to deep left field in the bottom of the eight, scoring Kara Brun from third, gave the fourth-ranked and second-seeded Arizona State softball team (43-18) a dramatic, 3-2, come from behind win over third-ranked and top-seeded Louisiana State (55-10) tonight to advance to Sunday's championship game in the Region III Tournament in Lafayette, Louisiana. The 43 wins also ties the Arizona State record for most wins in a single season set during the 1990, 1991 and 2000 seasons.
Arizona State struck first in the second inning with a two out rally. Kristin Farber, who extended her team-leading hitting streak to 12 games, singled to right field and then stole second base. Adriana Garcia followed with a double off LSU starter Kristin Schmidt (17-4) into the right center field gap to score Farber.
However, LSU came back with two unearned runs off three ASU errors in the top of the third. Jennie Reeves walked to start and then was sacrificed up to second, but first baseman Nichole Thompson misplayed the ball and Blair Smith was called safe at first. Aleshia Perry followed with a bunt single to load the bases. ASU made its second error of the inning when Trena Peel hit a hard shot between second and short that Missy Hixon could not handle, plating Reeves. April Janzen then hit the next pitch back to pitcher Erica Beach (30-13), which she also misplayed as Smith scored. The Sun Devils then settled down and got two more outs to get out of another bases loaded jam.
In the top of the seventh, LSU had another threat going before Farber made an acrobatic catch in right field to save two runs. With two outs and runners on second and third, Janzen hit the ball into right center field which appeared to be heading for the gap, but Farber quickly closed on the ball and made a diving catch to save ASU from further damage.
Now with the momentum turned, ASU would tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Jennifer Forner singled to left field. Hixon then fouled out to short right field, but Forner tagged and went to second making it in safe just under the tag of the shortstop. Thompson followed with a double into a wide open right center field gap, which LSU had been shading Thompson to go the opposite way, scoring Forner to tie the game at 2-2.
After LSU went down in order in the eight, the Sun Devils stage was set for the comeback win. After nearly ending the game herself with a ball that just went foul over the left field fence, Brun drilled a single off the center field fence. After one out, Beach hit another deep line drive to the base of the center field fence, advancing Brun to third. After taking two pitches from Schmidt, Wardein then turned on the next pitch and hit it to deep left field for the sacrifice fly, scoring Brun form third and ending the game.
Beach, for the second time today, pitched another solid game. She went all eight innings, allowing only six hits and no earned runs to pick up her 30th win of the year. That win also ties the ASU single season record set by Kirsten Voak in 2000.
Up next, Arizona State will face the winner of the LSU vs. UMass elimination game in the championship game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Either LSU or UMass has to beat ASU twice to advance to the College World Series.