Arizona State 6, LSU 0
The LSU tigers had been a dream-team on a mission. But all cinderella stories come to an end, and on Saturday afternoon the Sun Devils stomped on any hopes the Tigers may have had. Led by pitcher Hillary Bach, whose superb complete game set the bar for ASU’s momentum, the Devils coasted through this one and found their way into the Women’s College World Series semifinal round.
The bats for Arizona State finally came alive, as All-American Alix Johnson picked up the slack from earlier games in the WCWS and notched the first lead on a three-run homer in the third inning. The lead would stay at 3-0 for the next couple of innings before Bach was given some cushion, with another burst of runs scored on a rally in the top of the fifth.
With a 6-0 lead, there was no doubt about it. The dugout began to celebrate its win as early as the sixth inning, and when it was finally over, ASU’s fans breathed a sigh of relief: the road to repeat was still alive.
Among the Devils’ top contributors was Sam Parlich, who secured another RBI in for the second consecutive game.
But in the end, the game’s MVP had to be Hillary Bach. Since last season, Bach has been regarded as the no. 2 pitcher in this Sun Devil rotation, with Dallas Escobedo regarded among the best in the country. But on Saturday she stepped out from under the shadow and into the spotlight, with a domination of this Tigers lineup.
In the seven innings she pitched, she allowed only four hits and one walk. She only secured two strikeouts, but the shutdown performance definitely has earned her the respect she deserves. This entire season, Bach has been incredible. Her 1.59 ERA has her among the nation’s best in that category, and her 10 shutouts were good for 16th in the NCAA.
However, that’s not to say this game was without tumult for the red-hot Bach. She threw five illegal pitches, resulting in several Tigers progressing to an extra base. Her recovery was impressive, though, as she was able to record outs following almost all of the illegal pitches.
The Devils are looking ahead now to playing Oklahoma in the semifinal round. ASU will need to win back-to-back games against the Sooners to find themselves in the Championship Series for the second-straight year, but their hopes for another banner are still alive.