Arizona State eliminates Louisiana-Lafayette

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State hit four home runs, accounting for seven of their eight runs, and Dallas Escobedo threw a five-hit shutout as the Sun Devils eliminated Louisiana from the NCAA Championships, 8-0 in six innings on Friday night at ASU’s Farrington Stadium.

The loss ends the season for the Cajuns (53-6), while Arizona State (51-9), the defending national champion, clinches a berth in this week’s Women’s College World Series.

The 8-0 win marked a two-game comeback for Arizona State, who avoided elimination after losing the series’ first game on Thursday evening, 6-0.

Earlier on Friday evening, Arizona State defeated ULL, 9-2, to force a third game in the best-of-three series.

“I’m extremely proud of my kids and my team,” UL co-head coach Michael Lotief said in a university news release following the final contest. “We just didn’t have it today, but that didn’t stop us from fighting the entire night to win the game. We battled for every pitch, and even though things didn’t go our way, it shows what a great group of student-athletes that we have in our program,”

One night after throwing a two-hitter to dominate the Sun Devils, Jordan Wallace had to battle the long ball all night. The UL freshman allowed eight runs on 11 hits in five and two-thirds innings as she suffered her second defeat of the season against 27 wins.

“I don’t think her spin on her pitches and approach was any different,” Lotief said. “As she matures she is going to have to develop some more pitches, but I felt like she battled and we are proud of what she was able to accomplish this season.”

UL managed five hits in the contest — all singles — with three coming from leadoff hitter Katie Smith, while Natalie Fernandez and Nerissa Myers each had one hit.

ASU’s Dallas Escobedo, who suffered the defeat in UL’s 6-0 win on Thursday night, came back to throw the shutout. She struck out seven without a walk to improve to 23-6 on the year.

The Sun Devils took little time to get on the scoreboard as Alix Johnson and Haley Steele hit back-to-back homeruns with one out in the first to give ASU a 2-0 advantage. Johnson’s homer, her 11th of the year, left the park in right-center, while Steele’s shot, also her 11th of the season, was deposited to deep left-center.

ASU added two more in the second when Elizabeth Caporuscio drove a 3-2 pitch with two outs over the wall in straight away centerfield to score Sam Parlich, who had opened the inning with a single.

The long ball hurt the Cajuns again in the fifth when Johnson belted her second homerun of the game, a three-run blast to right-center, that pushed the lead to 7-0.

The Cajuns had an opportunity to rally in the sixth when Natalie Fernandez, Smith and Nerissa Myers led off with consecutive singles to load the bases. Escobedo got out of the jam without allowing a run when she induced Christi Orgeron to foul out to third base, struck out looking Matte Haack on an inside pitch with a full count and Brianna Cherry flew out to the wall in straight away center where Caporuscio made a great catch to end the inning.

The game came to an end in the bottom of the sixth when Steele stroked a single into right field over the head of ULL second baseman Paige Cormier, which scored Talor Haro. Haro had earlier singled.

The loss marked the final appearance in a Ragin’ Cajuns uniform for seniors Ashley Brignac, Orgeron, Erikka Murphy, Callie Philen, Smith, Megan Granger and Cormier. The group combined to lead UL to a 194-48 record during the last four years, including four NCAA appearances.

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